Voice-enabled access is next step for wireless

With all the talk about wireless communications here at the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) Wireless 2001 conference, many companies have decided to take it to the next level, with voice-enabled functionality for everything from mobile phone handsets to electronic commerce applications.

Eartha Systems, the wireless, GPS (global positioning system) and Internet unit of DeLorme, launched an enterprise application using VoiceXML (Extensible Markup Language) to give driving directions. Using DeLorme's software, drivers can use their mobile phones to instantly obtain point-to-point driving directions anywhere in the US, the company said. The application works with Eartha Enterprise, a mapping server, hosted by service providers that in turn offer the service to their customers.

Philips Speech Processing, the Dallas-based division of Dutch electronics giant Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, demonstrated a variety of speech-enabled applications, including voice portals, speech-enabled directory assistance services and voice-activated voice mail, which can be deployed on both fixed-line and mobile networks. The company also demonstrated a voice-driven weather report system, designed for use while driving, at its show booth.

Seattle-based Qpass Inc. launched its voice-enabled electronic wallet at the show. The mobile electronic commerce service uses speech recognition and voice authentication technology to enable mobile operators and voice portals to offer secure transactions over mobile phones. The Qpass TalkWallet stores, manages and transfers personal and payment information, then delivers that information directly to a merchant's order processing system based on voice authentication.

Wildfire Communications Inc. demonstrated its Wildfire Personal Assistant, designed to be a one-stop voice-enabled communications manager. The Personal Assistant takes messages, manages contacts, dials outgoing calls, receives faxes and announces incoming calls, all based on voice commands. The service is currently offered by Pacific Bell Corp.'s wireless division in the US, as well as by carriers in the UK, France and Italy, in local languages.

DeLorme, in Yarmouth, Maine, can be reached at +1-207-846-7000, or on the Web at http://www.delorme.com/. Philips Speech Processing, in Dallas, can be reached at +1-972-726-1200, or on the Web at http://www.speech.philips.com/. Qpass, in Seattle, can be contacted at +1-206-694-4425, or on the Web at http://www.qpass.com/. Wildfire, in Lexington, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-781-778-1500, or on the Web at http://www.wildfire.com/.

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