IBM Tests Mobile Speech Applications

At Wake Forest, the MobileU program lets students ask their mobile phone, "What time is the next bus coming?" GPS devices inside campus buses use GPRS to transmit the students' location to servers on campus and then send a message to the students' phones telling them how long they have to wait.
IBM has collaborated with two universities to develop several speech-enabled Web applications for mobile phones, the company said recently.
Big Blue is partnering with Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to test technologies that it may eventually offer to sales forces, physicians, and emergency-response teams, according to the company.

At Wake Forest, the MobileU program lets students ask their mobile phone, "What time is the next bus coming?" Global Positioning Satellite devices inside campus buses use General Packet Radio Service to transmit the students' location to servers on campus and then send a message to the students' phones telling them how long they have to wait. The application uses IBM WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment software.

For Wake Forest's LaundryView, IBM built an application on top of an existing Web application developed by the Mac-Gray Corp., which provides laundry management services to schools. Students living in special, tech-enabled facilities can query any Internet-connected device about how many washers and dryers are currently in use. As a result, they don't have to walk to the laundry room to find out whether any machines are free.

Developed by IBM and UCSB, Park and Pay by Cellphone is one of North America's first wireless parking systems that integrates a payment system, according to IBM. Drivers park, call a phone number and enter the parking space number. They can purchase additional parking time remotely by making another phone call, and parking fees are charged to a credit card. The new system tracks enforcement through a wireless network connecting 50 payment stations.

Also at UCSB, students with the Personal Information Manager application can ask their mobile phones what their e-mail inboxes contain. The application informs them audibly about their calendar entries and reads them instant messages and newspaper articles as they walk to class or drive their cars. The application takes RSS feeds from university and national newspapers and enters them into a speech-enabled Web browser. News is fed over standard Web protocols and is dynamically formatted for speech input and output.

The applications are hosted on an IBM WebSphere application server and synchronized to the devices using IBM Workplace Client Technology Micro Edition, a miniature application server that lets Web applications continue to function when wireless access is not available.

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