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The Digital Car Journal

A weblog about computers in cars
by Will Fitzgerald
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URL for this day Wednesday, January 31, 2001

What is VoiceXML?

VoiceXML is a language for creating voice-user interfaces, particularly for the telephone. It uses speech recognition and touchtone (DTMF keypad) for input, and pre-recorded audio and text-to-speech synthesis (TTS) for output.
In VoiceXML Review magazine, produced by the VoiceXML Forum.

This is an especially important quote from the same article:

Beyond the scope of the language are application logic, state management, dialog generation and sequencing, database operations, and interfaces to legacy systems (e.g., "screen scraping"). These are handled by traditional Web application programming techniques.
(The crucial thing to notice is the limitations, but I find the idea of "traditional Web application programming techniques" to be amusing. "Yessir, you just do dialog generation and sequencing the same way your father did, your grandfather before him!")


Navigation Technologies Corp., the world's leading provider of digital map information for navigation systems, announced plans to introduce NAVTECH® brand map products for in-vehicle navigation systems featuring automatic speech recognition and voice generation.

URL for this day Friday, January 26, 2001

The UK's Open University has a Department of Telematics.

Must be UK Day. Here's an Observer article: "Driving in my (telematic) car..." from October, 2000. It has the most interesting use of digital car I've seen:

Want a pink dashboard? Just tell the car that's the mood you're in.


British Vodafone bought Mannesmann. Mannesmann Telecommerce became Vodafone Telecommerce on January 1 (Press Release in German). Last June, Mannesmann Telecommerce bought a 20% stake in ATX Technologies (FierceWireless.com report).

In non-Brit news, EyeForAuto reports on a device from Networkcar Inc., currently being tested in California that

... plugs into a car's on board diagnostic computer and uses wireless paging technology to relay information to whoever the car owner wants--auto dealerships, manufacturers or even a personalized Web page ... The car owner decides who gets the information.

OBD-II Page, a page about the on-board diagnostic computer standard.

URL for this day Thursday, January 25, 2001

We went to the Detroit 2001 Autoshow. Here are some pictures (mostly of dashboards).

Johnson Controls Telematics page. Interestingly, apparently Mark Zeinstra, who is listed as the contact for Johnson Controls telematics, gave a talk on "Bluetooth In Car Systems for Entertainment & Convenience" at the 2000 Bluetooth Conference. JCI had a "ultimate family concept vehicle," called "LEGO in Motion" at the Autoshow, but somehow we missed it. A 360 degree view of the car is on the LEGO web site, though.

URL for this day Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Older article from 1997 (but still useful) that lists voice recognition chips and software development environment. By Stephen Kempainen, Technical Editor at EDN Access, "The Design Source for Engineers and Managers Worldwide."

Another article from 1998, by the same guy, on automotive telematics.

This search of the EDN Access products database for 'voice recognition' finds 6 voice reco chips, ranging in price from $3 to $50 each (in large lots, of course).

Who is behind Inzigo Research? They have a job opening for a Senior Dialog Modeling Engineer. Offices in Montreal and New York.

inzigo aims at becoming the leading supplier of spoken dialog systems, moving far beyond IVR and scripted dialogs and into the world of intelligent communicative agents capable of truly mixed-initiative dialog.

And why "inzigo" and not "Inzigo"?

URL for this day Tuesday, January 23, 2001 Motorola Telematics testdrive.

(wife, to husband) Do you mind if I look for some antique dealer listings? (husband) Sure, it's all yours. (wife, to computer) Search antique dealers. (computer) There are six antique dealers within 2 miles of your stated destination. I'll display directions to the nearest one.

Fortunately, this is all done before the car begins moving...

iVoice.com, Inc. Announces Patent Application Filing for Speech-enabled Name Dialer. Basically, this is importing a PIM database and converting the names to recognizable phonemes so they can then be dialed. Scary patent.

URL for this day Monday, January 22, 2001

Excellent Inteview with Saul Rubin (of UBS Warburg) on telematics. Some good quotes:

The companies that will likely take centre stage in telematics will be those funded by, or have close alliances with, large auto OEMs. Hence, the likes of OnStar and Wingcast are here to stay. In europe also, the main telematics players have the backing of the auto groups and/or wireless companies - e.g. Wireless Car (Volvo/Ericcson/Telia), Teguron (DaimlerChrysler/Deutsche Telekom), Wappi! (Peugeot/Vivendi)
At the end of the day, the value in telematics is the content - it is those that provide the best content or are involved in its delivery or the technology behind it that will benefit.
Telematics services do not necessarily require fancy interfaces - much can be done through voice, and indeed may have to be done through voice in the future.

DaimlerChrysler may buy Lernout & Hauspie's unit that makes voice recognition software for vehicles. (L&H is operating under bankruptcy orders).

URL for this day Friday, January 19, 2001 

German carmaker BMW and U.S. company Google have teamed up for three months of field tests to try out a new voice-activated, in-car search engine. This is a very bad idea, but I'm glad they're field testing it, and not just installing it.

Ford Simulator to Test Distractions. (from AAA Foundation Traffic Safety News).

"What we need to understand is what level of distraction is acceptable," said Helen Petrauskas, Ford vice president for safety. "We're used to listening to the radio or talking to a passenger, but how does new technology compare?"

Interface Concerns Stall the in-Car PC. Tech Web article (from AAA Foundation Traffic Safety News). Good overview of the perceived issues in voice recognition in cars.

EyeForAuto, a , has a program track on telematics, including presentations by Xiao Ying Gao on the potential of automotive telematics in Asia and in-vehicle multimedia, Ching Kwock Wing on "doing business on the move," and Kazuo Tanji on driver distraction and safety.

A panel discussion on Telematics and Safety (Realvideo) from the EyeForAuto USA 2000. Panel members: David Willis, President and CEO, AAA Foundation; Bruno Bourguet, General Manager, Webraska; Chris Wilson, Group Manager, Telematics and Safety, DaimlerChrysler Research; Moderator: Bernhard Wagenblast, Editor, Transportation Communications Newsletter. (They also had a track on telematics).

URL for this day Thursday, January 18, 2001 

Off to the Detroit Autoshow today.

URL for this day Wednesday, January 17, 2001 

Johnson Controls Delivers Unique Interior Systems For Innovative Volvo Safety Concept Car Project (Newsdesk)

To support Volvo Cars' vision -- enabling drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel -- Johnson Controls provided software development for an easy-to-use and non-distracting interface between human and machine. The driver-information software handles radio/compact disc player; controls for heating, ventilation and air conditioning; navigation system; communication system/phone and added safety technologies. Video displays are located in the instrument-panel gauge cluster and the center stack. For ease- of-use, controls are located on both the steering wheel and on the adjustable center console.

Visteon Voice Technology(TM) to Appear on the 2002 Infiniti Q45 (Newsdesk)

Drivers activate the system by pressing the voice button, conveniently located on the steering wheel, to obtain voice control of several functions within the vehicle interior. Visteon Voice Technology(TM), in the Infiniti Q45 enables drivers to control audio, climate control, cellular phone (available in the fall) and navigation systems with simple voice commands.

OnStar Licenses Nuance's Market-Leading Speech Recognition Software for Virtual Advisor. (PR Newswire).

Interesting report on Bluetooth Conference.

AI-Online.com. It's not artificial intelligence, but automotive industry online. They have a Engineer's Guide to the Detroit Auto Show. The Carlab's Eric Noble is quoted:

Telematics, which combines audio, hands-free cell phone, navigation, Internet connectivity, e-mail and voice recognition, is going to have a massive impact on interiors, Noble says. People will be sick of seeing it, but telematics and streaming infotainment is not going to go away.
Also, Noble says:
Voice recognition technology is getting better and making it possible. On top of that, legislation is going to be making it a requirement. We just can’t have the visual distraction that we currently have with cell phones and navigation systems. Voice activation becomes critical from a safety standpoint.

What is The Carlab? A "Santa Ana, Calif.-based automotive product consulting firm." Google search on "Eric Noble, president of The CARLAB".

URL for this day Tuesday, January 16, 2001 

From Venturewire:

Voice Web Developer Telera Raises $62 Million in Series D

CAMPBELL, Calif. (VENTUREWIRE) -- Telera, a developer of a network-based voice application platform, said it has received $62 million in its Series D round of funding led by new investor Bowman Capital. Other new investors American Express, Amerindo, Berkeley International Capital, Charter Growth Capital, and Intel joined previous investors Accel Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, and Sequoia Capital in the round. The company's product, Voice Web, is an interconnected network where Internet-based information and communications services can be accessed from any phone using the human voice. The company said it will use the capital to expand its application platform. Telera has raised more than $100 million to date.


Apparently, TrafficStation is using Telera's software--at least, Telera lists them as a customer.

URL for this day Monday, January 15, 2001 

You'd think a company that wants to "turn mobile devices into worldwide personal navigation systems" would have a webpage that loaded quickly. But no: Webraska. And where did they get that name if they're located in Poissy, France?

This link won't work for long, but here are Perceptual Robotics' live cameras at the Detroit Auto Show.

URL for this day Friday, January 12, 2001 

John Dvorak worries about drive by wire cars.

Within this decade we're expected to be driving cars that are run by on-board networks with no direct mechanical connections between the drivers and the cars. Call it drive-by-wire. The cars will be just like that Airbus that didn't "pull up" at the Paris Air Show a few years ago. That was a fly-by-wire plane.

URL for this day Wednesday, January 10, 2001 

Linux-powered Dodge on Slashdot. (thanks to John Wiseman).

iPhrase Technologies does 'conversational interfaces' for the web. Their CTO (and founder), Ray Lau, was involved in MIT's Galaxy II project.

Google search on "conversational interface".

More on Baobab. The press release indicates they're focussing on customer service applications. Baobab's funders, Yazam, faces "major restructuring," according to this VentureWire report.

URL for this day Tuesday, January 9, 2001 

Microsoft's Car.NET. The official home.

A press release about Microsoft's Car.NET initiative at CES.

Car.NET uses speech-recognition technology that allows users to make cellular phone calls, change the music selection, or access information without taking their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road. Distraction controls ensure that certain functions such as typing or reading text can be performed only while the car is stopped.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

The mission of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) is to foster public/private partnerships to increase the safety and efficiency of surface transportation through the application of advanced technologies. ITS America was mandated by the U.S. Congress in 1991 to coordinate the development and deployment of intelligent transportation systems in the United States.

At the ITSA site, I found this list of Telematics marketing surveys.

Who are Baobob Technologies?

URL for this day Monday, January 8, 2001 

The Consumer Electronics Show has a special pavilion dedicated to digital cars:

Experience the ride of the future at the Digital Car Pavilion. Discover developments in vehicle navigation, global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS) satellites, vehicle safety, obstacle warning systems, emergency notification and wireless products.

Meet the partners you'll need to tap into the Digital Car marketplace, including ETL, InfoMove.com, Navigation Technologies, TravRoute and Ultradata Systems.

(Thanks to Michael Hannemann).

Why the 'Digital Car' will Drive You to Distraction (or even an Early Grave) is a commentary on digital cars by Patrick Houston.

The Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) is having their annual meeting March 5-8 at Detroit's Cobo Hall. One of their technical sessions (pdf file) is a panel session on "Automobile Telematics and User Interface" chaired by Mark A. Cummings-Hill, of Delphi Delco Electronics.

The SAE has also established an Intelligent Transportation Systems and Intelligent Vehicle program.

   © 2001 I/NET, Inc.   Next