The software is initially downloadable for BlackBerry phones and is scheduled to roll out on future Helio devices.

Michael Singer, Contributor

April 24, 2008

2 Min Read

Voice service Tellme on Wednesday introduced a new voice-to-visual service and GPS location software designed to keep BlackBerry owners moving in the right direction with their eyes squarely on the road.

The Microsoft subsidiary announced a new backend voice portal service for the popular business smartphones as part of the company's expansion into interacting visually with communication devices. The software is initially downloadable for BlackBerry phones and is scheduled to roll out on future Helio devices.

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"Now instead of typing in a request or scrolling through menus to find information, people can simply hold down the 'talk' button, say a keyword, and see the results on the phone's screen," the company said in a statement.

Previously a voice-only application, Tellme said it is adding the visual functionality to give consumers the opportunity to hear and then visually confirm what they want, be that driving directions, movie tickets, traffic, weather, or business finder.

Part of Tellme's pitch is that the company knows smartphone users are notoriously distracted.

"Ninety-five percent of mobile 411 calls are done in the car," Dariusz Paczuski, senior director at Tellme said during his keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. The number is the result of a nationwide study conducted last month by Decipher and Greenfield Online. The panel included online adults who regularly use a cell phone or smartphone and who drive a minimum of 30 minutes, 4 times per week.

The number may be greater among drivers who specialize in Web 2.0 technologies. More than two-thirds of attendees casually polled during Paczuski's keynote admitted to either texting while driving or searching on a mobile device while behind the wheel.

In a world full of touch and type smartphones like the BlackBerry and Apple iPhone, that number is expected to increase by 30% to 50%, Paczuski said.

As for future integration with parent company Microsoft's products, Paczuski said the dust is finally settling on the acquisition of a year ago. The goal now is to improve the voice recognition technology, which he admits still has a long way to go.

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