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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 Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Marketing telematics to Congress: InterTrak, Televoke, and Aeris.net to Demonstrate Innovative "LifeTrak" Telematics Safety Service on Capitol Hill.

OnStar wins best speech deployment award:

“This honor is of great significance because it was voted on by the people who read Speech Technology Magazine,” said OnStar President Chet Huber.

URL for this day Monday, July 30, 2001

Wireless in the car raises all kinds of privacy issues.

URL for this day Friday, July 27, 2001

Foiling car thieves by:

...spraying cars with more than 10,000 microdots which contain the vehicle's identification number and also glow brightly under a special light. The tiny dots, not visible to the naked eye, will be applied in a random fashion and once dry will be almost impossible to remove. Parts to be sprayed included the underbody, exhausts, suspension components, the motor, the dashboard, door trims and the seats.

URL for this day Thursday, July 26, 2001

Pretty good telematics overview from the Chicago Tribune.

URL for this day Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Ah, here's another news article about the NHSTA cell phone use study: The "20 to 30%" is accidents caused by some sort of driver distraction. The UNC study we linked to earlier claimed a maximum rate of 13% for all distractions (and cell phones were a miniscule part of this -- but the study was somewhat old).

Ahah! After some digging, I found the NHTSA report (PDF format). Their summary:

Nationally, overall hand-held cell phone use by drivers of passenger vehicles (Table 1) was estimated at 3 percent. This means that at any given time during daylight hours, about 3 percent of drivers of passenger cars, vans, SUVs, and pickups are actively using a cell phone. Assuming that the 200 million registered passenger vehicles are driven on public roads for an average of one hour during daylight hours, there are an average of about 16.7 million passenger vehicles on the roads during any given daylight hour; in turn, this translates into approximately one-half million drivers using cell phones at any given time. The 2000 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey also estimated that 73 percent of drivers who said they usually have a wireless phone in their vehicle with them use a hand-held cell phone and an additional 22 percent use “hands-free” equipment. Extrapolating this result to the NOPUS hand-held cell phone observations results in an additional 0.9 percent of drivers using “hands-free” cell phones for a total of 3.9 percent (or more than 600,000) of drivers actively using cell phones at any one time.

And their 20-30% quote:

Additionally, the NASS General Estimates System estimated that various forms of driver distraction contributed to between 25 and 30 percent of injury and property damage- only crashes.

URL for this day Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Interesting Australian report on drowsiness detection systems (PDF file).

How many drivers are using their cell phones right now? Half a million.

The CNN article also claims:

[O]ther NHTSA data suggests cell phones contribute to approximately 20 percent to 30 percent of all crashes.
What study is this from?

URL for this day Monday, July 23, 2001

Yet another USB Warburg study: Traffic information systems to be $7 billion industry, dominated by Westwood One and Mobility Technologies:

UBS Warburg researchers said that the telematics market "has developed a bit more slowly than we had forecast" in last year's industry spanning report, "Worldwide Telematics Market: Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel." But, the firm noted, it could accelerate with the emergence of a "killer app" such as real time personalized traffic data.

URL for this day Friday, July 20, 2001

Another article on IBM's artificial passenger, calling it a "nightmare:"

It could be the ultimate nightmare for motorists -- the car that cracks jokes and talks back.

URL for this day Thursday, July 19, 2001

IBM is working on an artificial passenger:

The heart of the system is a conversation planner that holds a profile of you, including details of your interests and profession. When activated, the [artificial passenger] uses the profile to cook up provocative questions such as, "Who was the first person you dated?" via a speech generator and the in-car speakers. Your answer is picked up by a microphone and broken down into separate words by speech-recognition software. A camera built into the dashboard also tracks your lip movements to improve the accuracy of the speech recognition. A voice analyser then looks for signs of tiredness by checking to see if the answer matches your profile. Slow responses and a lack of intonation are read as signs of fatigue.

US Patent 6236968.

URL for this day Tuesday, July 17, 2001

It's the conversation, stupid. University of Kansas professor claims what's distracting about cell phone use isn't the 'handheld' part, but the 'conversational' part:

"Most of us, when we are driving and the traffic is really heavy, just ignore the radio. We can selectively turn that off," he said. Similarly, in-car conversations differ because both parties are aware of traffic conditions and can discontinue their conversation if things get too complicated.
But what if the interface were aware of traffic conditions, too?

Cellport announces Ford to use their hands-free cell phones.

The new Cellport 3000 with Voice Command product, also announced today, uses speaker-independent voice recognition, enabling any driver to use simple English commands to place or answer calls on their cell phones without having to look at or touch the phone. The system's patented Universal Docking Station and phone-specific Pocket Adapters accommodate cell phones of various makes and models.

URL for this day Monday, July 16, 2001

OnStar offering traffic and road condition reports, currently in the Detroit, Phoenix and San Francisco.

URL for this day Friday, July 13, 2001

Telematics must be real: Oracle is making puff PR announcements.

Oracle shares rose $1.64 to close at $19.64 on Nasdaq volume of 44 million.

URL for this day Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Pioneer announces a navigation system, the the AVIC-9DVD, their first for for the US and Canada. Some key features:

Voice Recognition - enhanced voice control interface. This system allows easy verbal input of commonly used commands to simplify operation and enhance driver safety.Traffic Information - real-time traffic using the CUE Radio Network System (optional) which can re-route the user around traffic situations. Receive traffic information, weather and news information using icons through the CUE receiver and service. Video Playback - integrate into the vehicle's audio/video system to function as a DVD video playback and CD audio source. PC Card Slot - allows for future upgrades as they become available.

From the Product page, it looks like the price is $2,400, without a display.

URL for this day Tuesday, July 10, 2001

I talked to several reporters in the aftermath of the New York state cell phone ban about I/NET's conversational interface technology. Charles Murray, of the EE Times, did the best job, I think, of describing what the uses might be in his article "Cell phone laws may drive cars to advanced technology".

URL for this day Monday, July 9, 2001

This is the sixth anniversary of The Digital Car Journal. If you're a reader, send me an email, and let me know what you like and dislike about this weblog.

Interesting slides (PDF file) from Klaus Möhlenkamp, Director Automotive Business Management at Ericsson (from EyeforAuto European meeting), including this one:

Needs and guidelines of the automotive industry (in introducing telematics products and services):

  • Human engineering (to avoid future legal action)
  • No-harm to the image
  • No-harm to the system
  • There must be a valid business case
  • Whose market place is the terminal inside the vehicle?
    • OEM will not allow anyone to damage the car brand with bad services!
    • Up-selling business for the OEM must not be deteriorated
  • Commitment: Who will take care of the end to end functionality and fulfillment of service? (Terminal performance is not enough)

Arthur Little telematics overview.

USB Warburg study on Telematics and Satellite Services (PDF file).

URL for this day Friday, July 6, 2001

A good use for telematics, perhaps: remote diagnostics. This article, though, doesn't mention concerns about control and privacy that might arise for vehicle owners.

GM will use SpeechWorks' text-to-speech software. Mobile Electronics article. Interesting internal quote:

GM enforces a rigid rule among product developers that if the dashboard has any screen visible to the driver, the screen must be disabled whenever the car is not in park or neutral. The world's largest automaker is betting that voice-activated technology, including voice-based e-mail and stock updates, will eventually replace visual data for use in the automobile. Despite GM's rule, industry executives still debate whether onboard communications should be controlled primarily by voice, touch or modified sight - including heads-up displays that flash e-mail or weather updates on the windshield in a see-through manner.

URL for this day Thursday, July 5, 2001

Forbes.com: Savvy Investors Cheer Car Phone Ban:

If the rest of the country follows New York's lead and bans handheld cell phones from the driver's seat, consumer safety advocates will cheer--and telematics investors will cheer louder. They are betting on technologies that turn cars into computers with wheels, and this new law could be just the catalyst needed to create a multibillion-dollar market.

Toyota is planning a mobile commerce service:

Starting in August, Toyota will enable drivers to place orders for compact disks of music to which they are listening via FM radio broadcasts by operating mobile phones.

URL for this day Monday, July 3, 2001

Orlando Sentinal weighs in: High-tech gadgets may drive us to distraction.

This Forester Research Report may say (quoting from the Orlando Sentinal article above):

46 million vehicles will contain telematic devices by 2006, and that the technology will generate about $19 billion in annual revenue.
But you'll have to pay to see it.

OK, this has nothing to do with cars, but here's a quick review of the new Spielberg/Kubrick movie, A.I.: Save your money. Just read the vastly superior short story instead.

URL for this day Monday, July 2, 2001

Our press release about New York's cell phone ban:

"Hands-free devices are only part of the solution," said Dr. Will Fitzgerald, I/NET chief technology officer. "As the number of in-car devices and off-board services available to drivers multiply, safe driving requires a system that can carry on a natural dialogue with a driver and that knows about what is going on in a car, including potential distractions. Even voice commands are distracting if you struggle to remember what the commands are."

The Kelsey Group Predicts $6.4 Billion in Revenues For In-Car Voice and Wireless Services by 2006 . Yet another consulting group prediction for big bucks from telematics.

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