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MICROSOFT UNVEILS IN-CAR SPEECH SYSTEM.

As auto manufacturers and policymakers do their part to promote safety -- including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Inc. have unveiled a set of voluntary guidelines to minimize driver distraction, New York State banning handheld cell phone use in the car and another 35 states considering adopting the same policy -- Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) is working with automakers and suppliers to support the safe use of in-car technology with the recent release of the newly re-engineered speech system in Windows CE for Automotive 3.5, its in-vehicle telematics software platform.

Microsoft Windows CE for Automotive 3.5 contains two unique speech components that make it easier than ever for drivers to interact in a natural voice with their in-car communication device: the Speech User Interface (SUI) and Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI) 5.0. Microsoft's breakthrough SUI system enables easy implementation of voice recognition and human-like text-to-speech technologies. This allows speech applications to easily integrate with telematics devices in a safe and effective manner, thus helping ensure that the driver can maintain visual contact with the traffic around the vehicle. The SUI works in tandem with SAPI 5.0, a global standard interface for speech applications, to provide a complete system capable of understanding natural speech and handling multiple interactions in a simple and familiar programming model.

"We are thrilled to offer this new and innovative speech technology to the telematics industry and pleased at the widespread industry support," said Gonzalo Bustillos, director of business development and marketing for the Automotive Business Unit at Microsoft. "Our goal is to consistently make our products easy to use, and the speech system in Windows CE for Automotive 3.5 delivers on this vision. Suppliers and automotive manufacturers can now make use of our advanced Speech User Interface to implement compelling telematics solutions and at the same time provide a safe and seamless experience for motorists."

Functionality With Built-In Safeguards

Windows CE for Automotive 3.5's SUI has built-in Driver Distraction Control safeguards designed to protect drivers from distractions that can be caused by a computing device. The system provides a standard interface enabling auto manufacturers to build devices that meet their individual safety requirements. The SUI also provides a speech queuing system that keeps order among a set of applications competing to talk with the user. To prevent applications from "barging in" and confusing or distracting the driver, the queuing system requires speech-based interactions to line up. This allows each application to "speak" to the driver when its turn comes up. The queuing system can be compared to a digital version of Robert's Rules of Order.

The queuing process can be programmed to be overridden by certain driving activities, such as when backing up, in high-traffic situations, or even any time the car is moving. An in-car system can halt all speech interaction when driving conditions be come "unsafe" for interaction between the device, software and driver. In safe driving conditions, the user will be able to enjoy the benefits of in-car navigational help, browsing for appointments, finding a specific business location or phone number, placing phone calls and easily interacting with the music system, among many other activities.

Widespread Industry Support

The speech system in Windows CE for Automotive 3.5 supports phonetic-based speech recognition and human-sounding text-to-speech technologies through SAPI 5.0. The system also offers a series of speech user-interface "controls," each of which is designed to handle certain kinds of speech interaction including questions, announcements or commands. The SUI sets up a structure for handling incoming requests and interactions, enabling the speech system to work easily and seamlessly with applications from speech engine vendors and speech application developers.

Microsoft has joined with many speech vendors to build speech recognition and text-to-speech engines that are compatible with Windows CE for Automotive 3.5 via the SAPI 5.0 standard. These speech vendors include ScanSoft Inc., Fonix Corp., Elan Informatique, Asahi Kasei Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.

"Combining Microsoft's Car.NET framework with the Windows CE for Automotive software platform presents an efficient and powerful way to deliver in-vehicle services and applications," said Robert Weideman, vice president of worldwide marketing at ScanSoft. "By including ScanSoft's SAPI 5.0-compliant ASR 1600 and TTS 3000 products in the speech system toolkit for Windows CE for Automotive 3.5, Microsoft is making it easy to add speech capabilities to its products and demonstrating a strong commitment to the development community. In an effort to underscore our continued support for the Windows CE for Automotive speech system, ScanSoft recently developed a SAPI 5.0-compliant version of the RealSpeak Compact text-to-speech engine."

"The speech system in Windows CE for Automotive 3.5 provides developers with the tools to easily create consistent Internet and wireless-enabled solutions driven by speech," said D. Lynn Shepherd, vice president and general manager for Mobile and Wireless at Fonix. "These solutions can range from Internet data access to entering and retrieving data from a corporate database -- all from a moving vehicle. That's why we've chosen to go with Microsoft's solution."

"Microsoft's SAPI 5.0 support on Windows CE for Automotive has enabled Elan to leverage its existing TTS engines in a standard Windows environment," said Etienne Lamort de Gail, director of marketing, Elan Informatique. "We chose to adopt Microsoft's global approach to speech because it has helped our efforts in providing speech technology from end to end, and we believe it's a key success factor."

"Windows CE for Automotive is a powerful platform for emerging speech-enabled automotive applications," said Nobuaki Tanaka, senior managing director of Asahi Kasei. "With SAPI 5.0 compliance, our VORERO speech-recognition engine can be easily integrated in a wide range of automotive devices by developers worldwide."

"Windows CE for Automotive has been gaining significant momentum with major car manufacturers and tier-1 suppliers in Japan," said Tomoaki Nakamura, manager of the Middleware System Design Department, Semiconductor and Integrated Circuits, at Hitachi. "Microsoft's SAPI 5.0 is a clear milestone for next-generation speech technology, and we are very pleased to support this important feature for the Japanese space and maintain a close relationship with Microsoft. We believe our customers will be able to easily develop high-quality and high-performance systems using our SuperHRISC-processor-based solution and the Windows CE for Automotive speech system."

About Windows CE for Automotive

Microsoft Windows CE for Automotive is a platform built on Windows CE, a robust, real-time embedded operating system, which enables new categories of in-car computers designed to safely provide drivers and passengers with hands-free communication, access to personalized information on the Internet, the ability to summon emergency services and roadside assistance, and an array of convenience and entertainment applications. Windows CE for Automotive is an open platform that allows developers to quickly create powerful in-car computing solutions. It offers flexibility and choice of computing platforms, hardware peripherals and software components, as well as a large community of experienced developers for Windows CE.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a provider of software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software -- any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft Windows CE for Automotive can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com/automotive/.

Microsoft can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com/.

For more information, call 206/223-1606.
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Title Annotation:Windows CE for Automotive 3.5 in-vehicle telematics software platform
Publication:Audiotex Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:1231
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