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A Car That Listens To You

IBM and Honda say they've developed a hands-free, natural-sounding speech-recognition system for advanced navigation in cars.
Talk nicely to your car and it may just listen and reply back. Honda and IBM said Tuesday at the Auto-Tech Conference in Detroit that they've jointly developed a hands-free and natural-sounding in-vehicle speech-recognition system for an advanced navigation application. Auto-Tech is sponsored by the standards organization Automotive Industry Action Group

The technology in IBM's Embedded ViaVoice software enables e700 commands and more than 1.2 million street and city names that are accessible by voice. Honda is the first car manufacturer to equip vehicles with in-car navigation systems using advanced speech recognition and text-to-speech capabilities that can identify spoken street and city names that exist across the continental United States.

IBM's Embedded ViaVoice software lets drivers speak any street address in the United States and receive turn-by-turn voice guidance to their destinations. The voice-recognition system enhances safety by eliminating the need for drivers to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road because it enables hands-on-the-wheel driving and requires zero typing on touch screens or manual dialing.

Honda says it will offer the system as standard equipment on the 2005 Acura RL and as an option on the 2005 Honda Odyssey in the United States and Canada beginning this month.

To create this advanced text-to-speech system, IBM and Honda research-and-development teams digitally processed hundreds of hours of speech recordings found in earlier-model Honda systems. The companies say they also produced hundreds of additional recordings to design this system. The result is a new type of speech synthesis that captures the characteristics of the human voice.

Features include a real-time traffic-navigation system, nationwide dining information, directions, and reviews, AcuraLink that communicates information between dealers and drivers, and HandsFreeLink that uses Bluetooth technology to synchronize personal cell-phone data within the car environment. The cell phone feature enables speech-enabled dialing on phones with built-in Bluetooth capability.