IBM To Announce Voice Initiatives In Cars, Servers

IBM is expected to announce today, Oct. 26, that its Embedded ViaVoice speech recognition technology will be used in an upcoming hands-free, on-board calling system in DaimlerChrysler vehicles.

By 2003, DaimlerChrysler plans to offer a push-button phone system built into every vehicle, allowing users to make or answer a phone call while driving. The system will not require hand manipulation once it is activated, leaving both hands free for driving, DaimlerChrysler representatives said.

IBM is expected to announce today, Oct. 26, that its Embedded ViaVoice speech recognition technology will be used in the upcoming system.

The system will work with a drivers cellular phone, which will be linked via Bluetooth wireless technology to a receiver module behind the dashboard, and the cars audio system. When a call comes in, the driver may answer it by pushing a button, and the callers voice will override any activity on the audio system. To make a call, the driver will push a button and speak into a microphone built into the rearview mirror. Again, the activity on the audio system will be suspended, and the respondents voice will be broadcast instead, said representative of Johnson Controls, a Plymouth, Mich., supplier of car interior systems.

Johnson will use IBM Embedded ViaVoice speech software so that voice commands in English, French or Spanish can be used to dial a number or access the systems phone book, which will be customizable by the owner.

The system is expected to be available next year as a vehicle add-on by third parties and as a factory-installed option in 2003, IBM representatives said.

Telematics - the use of computers and wireless technology in vehicles - is expected to enable new on-the-road emergency services, direction finding services, stolen vehicle detection and personalized news.

IBM is also expected to unveil today its WebSphere Voice Server 2.0, a server-based system that would allow an Internet user to access the Web and corporate databases by giving voice commands over a telephone. The response would come from a computerized voice that converts text to speech. The system is expected to be able to speak in Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, as well as English, German and French.

IBM representatives said that early users of WebSphere Voice Server include Maritz, a St. Louis, Mo., employee incentive company. Maritz will offer a system that lets a firms employees redeem incentive points and rewards from a corporate program by speaking commands to a system over the phone.

Xora, a software company in Mountain View, Calif., will use WebSphere Voice Server as a voice-initiating system for such applications as Clarify, i2 Technologies, Oracle, SAP and Siebel Systems. It also plans to voice-enable Lotus Development Notes and Microsoft Exchange, IBM representatives said.