COMPANIONS aims to change the way we think about the relationships of people to computers and the Internet by developing a virtual conversational 'Companion'. This will be an agent or 'presence' that stays with the user for long periods of time, developing a relationship and 'knowing' its owners preferences and wishes. It will communicate with the user primarily by using and understanding speech, but also using other technologies such as touch screens and sensors. The project consists of a consortium of 14 partners from across Europe and the US. The European Commission is funding the project as part of its 6th Research Framework, specifically as part of its focus on Information Society Technologies.