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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 Friday, August 31, 2001

.: On the face of it, this looks like just another boring PR piece: Cellport Systems Granted Serial Data Interface Control Document License from Qualcomm. But here's what's interesting: It allows Cellport to control Qualcomm phones using Cellport's voice-based interface. Specifically:

By gaining access to the QUALCOMM interface specification, Cellport will be able to begin producing Pocket Adapters for these handsets in the fourth quarter of this year. Cellport's unique Pocket Adapter system will allow users of CDMA phones to achieve hands-free, voice-activated operation in a safe and secure environment. Cellport already manufactures Pocket Adapters for handsets from Motorola and Nokia.

URL for this day Thursday, August 30, 2001

.: Very nice telematics overview from the Far Eastern Economic Review.

URL for this day Wednesday, August 29, 2001

.: IBM and ATX Technologies announce partnership.

.: IBM's Websphere Everyplace and Websphere Everyplace Embedded Edition -- including a white paper on telematics.

URL for this day Tuesday, August 28, 2001

.: Telematics Valley. In Swedish.

URL for this day Monday, August 27, 2001

.: Half-baked ideas for digital cars: cell-phone alcoves, voice-activated horns, external cruise control indicator (so we can all drive the same speed), anger management horn (the harder you push, the weaker it sounds), digital replaying radios, digital bumper stickers and custard-filled speed bumps.

URL for this day Friday, August 24, 2001

.: Minnesota's clever plan to reduce driver distraction: Put up billboards.

URL for this day Thursday, August 23, 2001

.: OnStar touts its safety record:

During only two of the 8.1 million embedded cell phone calls placed to an OnStar Call Center advisor from October 1996 (when OnStar was introduced) through May 2000 was a driver known to be on the phone at the time of a crash severe enough to deploy the vehicle's air bags.... In six other cases ... it was determined that the driver was on the phone within 10 minutes before a crash that deployed the air bags.
Only calls to OnStar and accidents resulting in an air bag deployment were studied.

I've got to look into this more -- for example, how many air bag deployments were there, total? Meanwhile, GM has this really cool driver distraction game on the web.

URL for this day Wednesday, August 22, 2001

.: Wireless ethernet standard 802.11b winning over Bluetooth? Report from "Rawcon."

URL for this day Tuesday, August 21, 2001

.: Problems with picture takin' traffic control systems:

"This is my sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that your system cannot distinguish between the sporty coupe shown in the ticket picture, and the Honda CR-V sport-utility vehicle that I drive. In other words, I swear that you have the wrong car, since the one shown in the ticket is not my vehicle. Is this sufficient to correct your error, or would you like me to swear at you some more?"

Long, thoughtful articleby Phil Agre, information studies professor: The Wired Car in the Wired World.

URL for this day Monday, August 20, 2001

.: State of telematics article from Crain's Detroit (free registration required) makes some good points:

  • Because of the uncertain legal status of telematics systems, US suppliers are trying systems out overseas,
  • Auto suppliers and telecommunications companies are struggling over how to decide standards and architectures, but potential profits will drive them to decide,
  • It might be good to decide quickly, though, before specific practices are outlawed.

.: EU-funded initiative on embedded, intercommunicating, distributed computing: The Disappearing Computer.

URL for this day Friday, August 17, 2001

.: An important new driver distraction study from the National Saftety Council, comparing hand-held and hands-free cell phone use, as well as books-on-tape and listening to the radio. Conclusion:

These data demonstrate that the phone conversation itself resulted in significant slowing in the response to simulated traffic signals, as well as an increase in the likelihood of missing these signals. Moreover, the fact that hand-held and hands-free cell phones resulted in equivalent ... deficits indicates that the interference was not due to peripheral factors such as holding the phone while conversing. These findings also rule out interpretations that attribute the deficits ... to simply attending to verbal material, because dual-task deficits were not observed in the book-on-tape control. Active engagement in the cell phone conversation appears to be necessary to produce the observed dual-task interference.
(Emphasis mine). NSC press release. CNN new report.

.: Come along with me, Lucille, in a Linux techmobile.

URL for this day Thursday, August 16, 2001

.: China now has more cell phones than the US: International Herald Tribune article:

China had 120.6 million mobile-phone users at the end of last month after subscribers surged by more than 40 percent over the preceding year, Wang Lijian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Information Industry, said Tuesday. That compares with 120.1 million users currently in the United States.
And there's room to grow: only 1 in 10 Chinese has a cell phone, compared to 4 in 10 for US citizens:
In July alone, China added 3.8 million cell-phone subscribers.

.: Another IHT article, this time about AT&T's Natural Voices technology, with a few more details on the technological background (much better than the NPR segment, for example).

URL for this day Wednesday, August 15, 2001

.: BMW, Cross Country Auto, and ATX Technologies announce new telematics systems for BMW's 2003 model year, in particular:

automatic collision notification and one-press-of-the-button emergency call response.

One Voice, "the world's first voice-to-text messaging solution," goes into beta for SMS (phone-to-phone short messages).

.: General telematics review article, this time from the Detroit News. Main applications: safety and security; "eventually expand[ing] to include information and entertainment services."

URL for this day Tuesday, August 14, 2001

.: I didn't mention this when it happened, but better late than never: DaimlerChrysler Selects AT&T Wireless as Part of Comprehensive North American Telematics Strategy. .:

Also, another article on differentiating voiced-based services by voice quality, which I should have mentioned yesterday. From the article:

I hope companies will soon figure out how to cleanly pass voice control between applications. There's also the issue of a user knowing precisely which system is speaking to him. To that end, there's a growing market for voice-synthesis products with identifiable voices.

URL for this day Monday, August 13, 2001

.: Better voice synthesis: ATT's Natural Voices technology. Rhetorical Systems' rVoice (with British, Scottish, and American accents). Also, a National Public Radio segment (Real Audio) on speech synthesis.

URL for this day Wednesday, August 8, 2001

SAE's Digital Car conference is coming up in October.

URL for this day Tuesday, August 7, 2001

.: Wind River (a real-time operating system company) and Fonix (a speech reco and synthesis company) announce a joint effort:

The joint technology demonstrations and co-marketing efforts will help show how to take speech-based product ideas from the drawing board to market readiness.

.: Industy Standard article on two possible setbacks to developing services based on E-911:

Verizon Wireless, the country's largest cellular carrier, joined other celcos last week in requesting a deadline extension from the FCC for implementing E-911 services. And Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., proposed a location-privacy law earlier this month that would limit carriers' ability to profit from the technology.

And it looks like Sprint is asking for an extension, too.

URL for this day Monday, August 6, 2001

.: Research on multitasking: CNN reportage:

Driving while talking on a cell phone, maybe making business calls while trying to get to your next meeting, is being used by these researchers as an example of a potentially disastrous multitasking scenario. "A lot of folks," says [report co-author David] Meyer, "think, 'Well, cell phoning while driving is really no big deal and I can get away with it.' But even if you have a cell phone that's not held by hand and can be dialed by voice, you still have a really big conflict because when you're driving you need to be looking at various different places, you need to be reading signs, you need to be talking to yourself about those in order to -- through your mental speech -- make decisions about where to go with your car. And there's no way to do that while on the cell phone because you have to use your 'inner ears' and 'inner speech' and even your 'inner eyes' to imagine what the person on the phone is talking about."

URL for this day Wednesday, August 1, 2001

.: Navtrak, which provides GSM-based vehicle location services in Britian and the EU, raises $2.5 million in first round financing.

.: Motorola is providing telematics to Audi (press release):

Designed and fine-tuned for Audi cars, the Motorola Telematics Communications Unit (TCU), serves as the wireless gateway for the Audi infotainment system. The TCU allows drivers to access the special telematics services through an Audi portal and the Internet directly. The joint development of the Audi infotainment system also includes the use of Motorola communications solutions with enhanced functionality based on Java(TM) and MOST (Media Oriented System Transport). In addition to the benefits of an embedded hands-free phone, the TCU also provides telematics and Internet services, based on GSM dual-band and General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) technologies. The integrated wireless modem in the TCU can be converted for later use as a UMTS-enabled variant. A Bluetooth(TM) wireless interface also allows for data exchange between the TCU and other Bluetooth wireless capable devices, such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and notebook computers.

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