are doing crazy things nowadays. They can go up mountains, swim lakes
and rivers and even fly! Not to mention they can race at nerve-cracking
speeds. So when that piece of shiny metal with four wheels (a car,
that is) does all the things that's not out-of-place in a sci-fi story,
it should have some verbal skills too. Well, that's coming too.
challenged need no longer feel shame. Men (and women) who lose their
way will be able to safely ask for directions without having to stop
(gasp) at a gas station. Honda will soon become the first auto manufacturer
to include, as standard equipment in some models, technology that
enables drivers to converse with their cars about where to go and
how to get there.
and text-to-speech technology from IBM, the 2005 Acura RL, available
in October, and Honda Odyssey, available in September, will produce
maps and "speak" turn-by-turn directions from the navigation
system. Drivers will also be able to make phone calls or crank up
the air conditioning, all while keeping their eyes on the road and
their hands on the wheel.
ViaVoice technology uses a single processor similar to those used
in handheld computers to recognize voice commands and verbalize directions.
This is IBM's first product that reads out complete turn-by-turn directions
including street names, such as "turn right on Fourth Street,
then left on King Street."
audio directions are produced using female voice recordings divided
into phonetic sounds that are merged into natural-sounding words.
The voice-recognition system was designed to work in the presence
of ambient sounds such as air conditioning or a racing engine. The
system also takes into account regional differences in speech patterns,
so it will be able to recognize and understand different accents.
The vehicles will recognize 700 voice commands and can recognize and
reply to 1.7 million street and city names from across North America.
Honda is the first
company to work with IBM on integrating the technology into a navigation
system, but other deals may also follow. The company did extensive
testing with Honda to make sure the system is reliable. "We don't
want to be the ones that make you have to pull off the side of the
road to restart your car to reboot the computer," commented a
spokesperson on their website.
Those who loves
to eat may appreciate the vehicles' inclusion of Zagat Survey restaurant
guides. Hungry drivers can ask for the closest Italian restaurant
and receive directions and a review of the eatery.
The 2005 Acura
RL also includes a real-time traffic navigation system that highlights
congested roads on the screen.
These Honda vehicles
are the first to integrate text-to-speech into a navigation system.
By eliminating the need for accessing a touch screen or keypad to
look for a destination, Honda is allowing people to focus on driving.
All these end up to be more safer and more elegant solution than most
other touch-screen based navigation systems.
voice recognition and navigation will likely be mostly limited to
high-end vehicles for the next few years since they can cost up to
$2,000 to install. Although this seems to be quite expensive, navigation
systems are slowly becoming cheaper and cheaper.
So far, the number
of consumers who choose manually operated navigation systems has been
low because of the complexity of using the systems. People don't want
to spend $2,000 for something that is hard to use. However, the voice-activated
controls for navigation or phone dialling have a clear advantage…
its easier to use and, well, the driver can do his driving and is
not needed to pause and tap the touch-screen of a navigation system.
It would keep them focused on the road.