Global Alert Network Launches Hands-Free Service for Drivers

Global Alert Network (GAN) has launched a speech-enabled, hands-free mobile application that delivers hyper-local traffic and weather alerts to drivers nationwide via their Android or BlackBerry smartphones.

A version for the Apple iPhone is due out in a couple of weeks, and GAN is also working on an app to support the Java and BREW mobile platforms, according to GAN’s president, Scott Hughes.

The application can be downloaded for free through the BlackBerry AppWorld and Android Market. Once the user downloads the application, it runs in the background and "wakes up" only to present relevant information. The app uses the phone's GPS to determine the user's location.

GAN currently offers real-time local traffic for 120 U.S. cities and seven Candian cities and weather throughout the United States, with Canada to be added in a few weeks.  Weather information is provided by AccuWeather.com; Traffic information is provided by Clear Channel Radio's Total Traffic Network. Local Amber alerts and emergency information can also be relayed through the service.

"GAN's highly personalized, hands-free audio alerts push incredibly relevant, necessary, and potentially life-saving information in a way that cuts through to the driver without distracting him," Hughes says.

GAN anticipates expanding the available content to include news, sports, and entertainment. Each user will be able to select the type of information he wants to receive.

The alerts are automatic, meaning that once the user downloads the app and chooses the types of alerts to receive, he does not have to do anything else. "This service was created to allow drivers access to important information without having to engage with their mobile phones on the road," Hughes explains

The information is relayed to the user audibly via text-to-speech technologies provided by NeoSpeech."The TTS, for the most part, has been reliable," Hughes says, but on occasion the TTS engine has difficulty pronouncing street and location names. In those instances, GAN can go in and correct the pronunciations via a text interface.

The application is free to use and is supported with brief national and local advertisements that are included as part of the alert. 

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