IBM, the world leader in information technology innovation, recently announced that it has jointly developed with Honda Motor Company a unique, hands-free and natural-sounding conversational system that will provide driving directions, allow easy control climate and entertainment systems, even suggest nearby restaurants. Beginning this month, the system will be available on three models in the US and Canada.
Thanks to IBM technology, Honda is the first car manufacturer to equip automobiles with in-car navigation systems using advanced speech recognition and text-to-speech capabilities that can identify spoken street and city names that exist across the entire continental United States. This allows drivers to speak all street addresses represented in the US navigation system database and receive turn-by-turn voice guidance to their destinations. The breakthrough voice-recognition system can also enable enhanced ease-of-use by eliminating the need for drivers to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road, since no typing on touch screens or manual dialing is required.
To create the advanced, natural-sounding text-to-speech system, IBM Haifa and Honda research-and-development teams digitally processed hundreds of hours of speech recordings found in earlier-model Honda systems. They also produced hundreds of additional recordings to design a natural-sounding text-to-speech voice, digitally segmenting speech, and intonations that can allow vehicles to communicate naturally with their drivers. The resulting text-to-speech system-based on IBM Haifa's embedded Concatenative Text-To-Speech (eCTTS) technology-offers a totally new type of speech synthesis that can capture the characteristics of the human voice.
The IBM Haifa team has been working on voice-enabled telematics solutions for more than two years. To-date, user satisfaction with the speech-enabled systems has been outstanding due to Honda's engineering ability and IBM's speech technology and automotive telematics solutions.
"What we are now seeing for vehicle-centered voice technology is just the beginning of the revolution that will take place in mobile voice-enabled solutions," notes Zohar Sivan, manager of the Media Services and Technologies group at the IBM Haifa Lab. "IBM is helping world-class companies like Honda to break new ground for their customers by implementing high-quality, innovative solutions that puts them ahead of their competition." This natural interaction between man and machine-now possible using advanced high quality embedded text-to-speech systems-is essential for the new generation of personalized mobile devices.
IBM's integrated, open-standards-based software and telematics solutions are increasingly allowing data to benefit customers virtually wherever they are, helping to create entirely new industry models.
The new voice navigation system will be included in new Honda 2005 models, including the Honda Odyssey minivan and the Acura RL.