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Surf the Net While Driving Your Car?

19 January 2000

Surf the Net While Driving Your Car? Do It With Voice Commands, According To a Paper at SAE 2000 World Congress
    WARRENDALE, Pa., Jan. 19 -- Internet access while driving to
work -- it's not just for concept cars anymore.  The technology is here, safe,
cost effective, and ready for consumers, according to a technical paper to be
presented at SAE 2000 World Congress, March 6-9 in Detroit, Michigan.
    Siemans' web-based, Interactive Radio Environment (WIRE) technology allows
drivers to retrieve and send electronic mail by using voice commands.  They
can even browse the World Wide Web (www) while keeping their eyes on the road
and two hands on the wheel.
    Think of WIRE as a car radio.  That's what the researchers did when
designing WIRE's user interface.  While browsing the www, you bookmark a
particular website -- that's like selecting a radio channel.  Once selected,
you listen to the audio rendering of the website page, as if listening to a
certain song on the radio.  You then have the option to use voice commands for
additional features, such as following a link to another Home Page, or
"turning the channel" to visit an unrelated website.
    According to Stuart Goose, principal researcher of the multi-lingual WIRE,
the majority of cars on U.S. roads contain only one occupant...the driver.
Thus, a key requirement of the Siemans researchers was to design an in-car
voice browser that was safe and simple to use in transit.
    Audio renderings can be produced for the vast majority of web sites, but
some context can be lost when encountering a graphically complex site.  In
this situation, the user can "flag" that page and save it to their home
computer for later viewing.
    Although speech technology has become a vaunted feature within concept
cars, to the authors' knowledge, WIRE is the first sophisticated www voice
browser for the automotive industry.
    The paper, "Audio-Only Access to Internet Information in a Car," will be
presented at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 8 during the SAE 2000 World
Congress, Cobo Center (Room D3-22/23), Detroit, Michigan.
    SAE World Congress, the world's largest showcase of automotive engineering
technologies, runs March 6 - 9, 2000, attracting attendees from more than
50 countries.  To attend, visit http://www.sae.org or call 1-877-SAE-CONG (723-2664);
outside the U.S. and Canada, call 1-724-772-4027.