Just say the word ...

Telecom Mobile showed off its voice-activated dialling service at Computerworld Expo in Auckland a fortnight ago. The service is still in trial stage with no launch date yet, but it is expected soon.

Telecom Mobile is using an application called VoiceCue, which is used by Chicago's Cellular One cellphone network. VoiceCue is distributed by Auckland-based Voice Technologies in New Zealand.

Visitors to the Computerworld Expo were able to try the service out for themselves using a car phone at the Telecom Mobile stand.

To dial a number, the user simply speaks the number or the name of the person or company wanted. Frequently used numbers can be memorised by the system and given a keyword which the service will recognise.

Some of the latest high-tech cellphones have this function built into them already, but Telecom Mobile managing director Ross Baker says the voice-dialling system will be embedded into the Telecom cellular network to make the service available to all mobile customers with immediate benefits - especially for other motorists.

"For instance, voice-activated dialling, when used in a hands-free car kit, ensures that the user can safely and comfortably use a cellular phone while driving."

The forthcoming service is the result of an almost year-long trial of the VoiceCue system, which had to be modified to recognise the New Zealand accent.

Volunteers were encouraged last year to ring a special number and read words and numbers at random from a telephone book. One thousand voice samples were collected and then sent to the United States where programmers learnt about the effects of cellphones on their voices.

Fifty people within Telecom tested the system for six weeks after the necessary equipment was installed and selected Telecom Mobile customers then took part in a full market trial.

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