Speech-Driven Volkswagen Owners Manual Wins Innovation Prize at AutoMechanika 2004

AutoMechanika in Frankfurt awarded one of its four Innovation Prizes to the new Vokswagen speech-enabled Multimodal Owners Manual. The application was developed for Volkswagen by the Berlin-based voice application company, 8hertz Technologies GmbH (8hertz). The Multimodal Owners Manual meets growing demands for increased driver safety and for driver services by allowing personalized access to the complete owner's manual using spoken questions.

Drivers can now keep eyes focused on the road and hands on the steering wheel while asking questions such as "How does the Automatic Distance Control work?" or "What does this red light mean?" The requested information is then delivered both acoustically and visually through the driver's own mobile device, e.g. smart phone or mobile digital assistant (MDA), directly from the existing Volkswagen Owners Manual data located on a content server. Pictures from the manual are delivered as a visual aid to accompany the description read aloud to the driver. In this way an accompanying passenger, or the driver when stopped, can compare the picture to the vehicle, to locate necessary functional elements.

Spoken questions do not use the mobile telephone GSM voice channel, but the Internet channel via GPRS, UMTS, or WLAN, now available on many mobile phones and devices. Customers can use their existing mobile devices instead of retrofitting their car with new technology.

The server-based Multimodal Owner's Manual also allows manufacturers to provide updates to their customers, instead of sending out new software updates to individual automobiles.

These services can be extended through server-based multimodal technology, combining visual and spoken interfaces, to provide im Navigation, Traffic-Updates, Mobile-Office, as well as a variety of entertainment services. But not only drivers benefit from the technology, also field force workers, such as repairmen and technicians, who need to see catalogs of replacement parts or customer records, while working on a car, and still be able to enter necessary data using natural spoken commands.

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