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Hardware

Super-small Voice-controlled Wireless Phone 133

Noah Bergevin writes: "While web browsing one day, I ran across a little gadget at a favorite e-tailer of mine, and fell in love with it at first sight. It's a super-small cordless telephone that you hang on your ear, and which uses voice-recognition instead of a physical keypad to do the dialing. It's from a company called ArialPhone. They have only been around since January 2001, and the phone has been out for about a year." Read on to see what's good and not-as-good about this phone with the rest of Noah's review.

The phone comes in two pieces, (much like other cordless phones). The earset weighs only 1.1oz (including the lithium polymer battery, smaller than a pack of gum), and only has a single button on it. The base station plugs into your analog phone line, and connects to your computer via USB. The included software runs a custom copy of IBM's ViaVoice speech engine to interpret your voice commands; right now the software only runs on Windows.

The software integrates into Outlook, ACT! and Windows Address Book. At boot-up, the software looks at the list of contacts, and loads their names into a custom speech dictionary. If you want to call John Public, you press the button on the earset and say "Call John Public at work." The software matches your speech to John's name, looks up John's information, finds his Work number, and dials it for you. (Very cool). Dialing by numbers is done by pressing the button, and saying "Dial" and announcing the digits you want to dial, (i.e. "Dial one eight-hundred five five five one two one two").

All the other telephone functions are also handled via voice command, (answer, hang up, flash, mute, hold, volume, etc).

Right now the software only works with telephony functions, but they have just released an add-on package that lets you use the phone as a wireless headset for your computer, (for voice-dictation, IP Telephony, other voice-recognition software, etc). They say they want to extend the software to handle home-automation and entertainment, (can anyone say voice-controlled X10?!?)

The phones are priced at $300, which is targeted at the business crowd. It's a little steep for home use.

I happened to find a deal on mine, and have been using it for about a month now. I work out of my home for a software company on the other side of the country. It is very handy to be able to talk to my co-workers simply by saying their name. The size and form factor are also very nice. I can wear it around all day, and am able to take a call from anywhere near the house, (office, back deck, breakfast table, neighbor's house, changing a diaper, etc).

I know this doesn't have much to do w/ Linux, but the geek in me couldn't keep my mouth shut! I thought this might be an interesting story, simply for the application of voice technology and miniaturization.


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Super-small Voice-controlled Wireless Phone

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  • This.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @03:21PM (#3926718) Journal
    Is a really good idea, especially if you could hook it up to an X10. Being able to say "lights off" is much easier than having to clap :-).

    The only concern I would have in the business application is what frequencies it uses and how secure it is. Most companies I know dislike cordless phones for this exact reason, and usually stay with in building lines. But they probably have a solution for this already.
    • The advantage to the clapper over this device is that you would most likely not want to wear this to bed and then have to take it off and put it down safely in the dark, the clapper requires no additional hardware, although I think it's corny and useless.
    • Re:This.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2002 @04:40PM (#3926951)
      We actually had this phone demonstrated at our office. It was a joke. It took the sales guy an average of 4 tries to get the thing to dial simple local calls. The demo really went south when he passed it around to others around the table. It couldn't understand some people at all, despite the "speaker independent voice recognition".
      • Since when is IBM ViaVoice speaker independent? If they were touting it as such, they were either lying, or I am out of the loop with regard to advances in ViaVoice (very possible), or their software which interfaces with ViaVoice is somehow able to do "speaker independent voice recognition". Well, if that's the case, where has IBM been?! Their labs have always been on the cutting-edge of the technology (or they give that impression; I know that they have been actively researching it for a *long* time now), so how is it possible that someone beat them to "speaker independent recognition" technology, even based on their engine?

        Even the cellular phones that I've tried which contain voice-controlled speed-dial are speaker dependent.
        • Even the cellular phones that I've tried which contain voice-controlled speed-dial are speaker dependent.

          Well then, you've tried the wrong ones, because my Mom's Sprint cellphone is speaker independant and only takes more than one try if you're standing directly adjacent to a sound that is almost as loud as your voice (air conditioner, open car window at 65mph, etc.).
    • X10 (Score:3, Funny)

      by spacefrog ( 313816 )
      When you said voice control for your X10, my first thought was "Take clandestine video of teenage girl undressing and then pan really slow"....

      Damn popup ads...
  • Product or add-on (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If it requires Windows to run, then its really not a seperate product is it? Its more of just an add-on for Windows?

    If its useless without a particular brand of some other product, then its useless.
    • by MaxVlast ( 103795 )
      Uh...I think you might be wrong. What about your printer or modem? Or Palm? It could be used without another machine, but it loses a lot on its own. I think your logic is really quite flawed.
      • What about your printer or modem? Or Palm? It could be used without another machine, but it loses a lot on its own. I think your logic is really quite flawed.

        Seems to me you validated his point. Those things can all be used with other machines. Unless you were trying to say they can be used standalone in which case I'm really struggling to come up with uses for a disconnected printer or modem and if I read this right you can't use voice commands unless hooked up to a Windows box so this is worthless as a standalone device.
  • I don't know what your cellphone technology is like in the USA (and I probably don't want to, since I can't think of a single US cellphone manufacturer or innovator), but this sort of thing is not really new in Europe, and is probably even passé in Japan.

    This ArialPhone uses a base station as the actual phone bit, as having the phone actually right next to your ear like that all the time would probably give you cancer. So... this is absolutely no different to a standard Bluetooth phone with a Bluetooth headset.

    Infact, it's worse, this uses 900Mhz spread spectrum, whereas Bluetooth is better because it has a cool name and better branding.
    • This isn't a cell phone. But it still sucks because you have to hook it up to windows in order for it to work.

      Does anyone make any cell phone base station/desktop phones? Since many people are opting for cell phones instead of normal land line phones, this may be something useful for those of us who would rather use a regular handset, especially when at home. For example, if Nokia or Ericsson made one, a person could plug in the cell phone into the base station and use a normal full sized dialpad and handset while the portable charges. Maybe even an option to use a roof mounted antenna.

      • you mean like this one? [kyocera-wireless.com]

        or maybe these? [vox2.com]
      • What would be even better is a cellular phone that would double as a regular cordless when in range of its base station. This way when you are in the confines of your own home the phone could be used on your regular line saving you cell phone fees. Maybe they could get really slick and make the cell and the home numbers the same so you could cary it with you at all times and never need to deal with multiple numbers.
        • Do you mean something like Ericsson MD110 Mobile Extension?
          From http://www.ericsson.com/enterprise/products/mobex. shtml :

          "For truly mobile professionals

          Mobile phones, allowing you to move around and still be able to call or be called, is a fundamental element of mobility. But supporting mobile behavior requires much more. The mobile professional also require access to the applications, services, support, and flexibility that your communication system provides.

          What if your mobile phone was connected to your PBX just like any other office extension? Ericsson MD110 Mobile Extension will give you this unique service. Ericsson MD110 Mobile Extension integrates mobile phones into the PBX, providing all services needed to allow your employees to become truly mobile professionals."
        • Good idea but around my turf the cell phone prices are so low that some people are dumping the wire line altogether.
          I like the number idea though.
    • umm doesnt bluetooth use 2G spectrum?
      The one that are water logged brains are more likely to absorb? if that's what you meant by cancer.

      I personally would like something that strapped to one of my hips and was shielded well on the side towards my body with a wire running up to a small ear/mouth piece combo, but I am also probably overly worried about the cancer risk and at the same time overly naive to think that there isn't so much cancerous radio transmission in the air already to think it matters.

      Anyway I do agree with your comments that got you modded as flame bait (I want more damned gadgets here in America, yet they don't come).
    • um yeah... it's not a cellphone and the bluetooth technology you speak of is made by motorola. in the usa.
      • Bluetooth chips might be made in the US but they were developed by a consortium headed by Sony/Ericsson, in other words in Europe and Japan which is where this innovation goes on

        Sad but true America is *way* behind in this field - how many bluetooth enabled phones do you guys have on the market - last I remember reading (NYTimes last week) you could "count them on three fingers"

        here in Scotland the available coverage and terrifs mean that the difference between lanline and cellphone is moot - personally I only use my fixed line for the TiVo, voice calls all go through my (Bluetooth enabled, GPRS) Mobile.
    • >as having the phone actually right next to your ear like that all the time would probably give you cancer.

      Well, first off, the radio radiation given off by cellphones is extremely small, to say the least, and because its so small its extremely difficult to prove that there's any link between cellphone use and cancer that actually involves the use of the cellphone, and not the lifestyle of people who can afford cellphones.

      Next, a portable phone like this would probably come under the sub 100 mW transmission laws in the US. Cellphones transmit 700 mW to 3000 mW of power, which means that if (for example) 1 sq in. of your face were exposed to the radio waves, you would have to hold the cellphone over 3 inches from your face. This makes a huge difference.

      So don't worry about getting cancer from your portable phone. It just isn't powerful enough to matter!
    • My friend works for a cell phone manufacturer. They are going to produce a car set based around bluetooth (might be in the stores allready). The nice point is that you do not have to throw any switches to activate the set when you go into the car; the car set activates if you have your phone with you. So actually, you can be on the phone, enter the car (the set activates) and pocket your phone and continue talking trough the car set (microphones, loudspeakers).

      I think basically almost all (from mid-range upwards) cell phones do have a voice/speach recognition system for dialing. This would be usefull if you are using a mike or a car set. Anyway, typically the phone has memory reserved for 10-20 names (at least the old one I have).
  • Hmmm (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Whilst I dont want this to sound like flaimbait but why is this here? We've had cell phones that have voice recognition for a while and this post reads like an ad.
    • this post reads like an ad.

      Of course, if you check out this Noah Bergevin's [slashdot.org] user info you will see that he is a well respected member of the slashdot community and would never do such a thing. (end sarcasm)

  • "Is it that difficult to push the buttons?"
    "It's not that it's difficult, it's unnecessary."
    • No, this would be Dilbert [dilbert.com]:

      "Is it that difficult to push the buttons?"
      "I'd like to see you do it, mister!"

    • Sounds like ACTUAL logic, to me. We were once turning a dial with our fingers to dial phone numbers. It wasn't that difficult, but it was unnecessary when we had the technology to just press buttons, which is what we do now. Now that technology is advancing again, we can just say "Call Tom Smith". It's not that dialing phone numbers the rotary phone way is difficult, but instead that just saying the person's name is even easier, takes less time, and prevents us from having to remember long, unnecessary phone numbers as many phone systems in the US move to ten digit dialing and blur the lines between local and long-distance calls.
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @03:30PM (#3926743) Homepage
    I worry about hanging a permanent wireless phone like this on my ear. According to this study Pagers are much safer. [lostbrain.com]

    Yes, it's a parody.
    tcd004

    • I'm also interested in what the health risks might be. I understand that mobile phones are pretty dodgy, but the US are doing their best to hide this research. Are there any decent studies showing the long-term effects of mobile phones on the brain?

  • I'd like to see what the quality of the voice recognition is before I purchase this. If it's not too good, then I probably wouldn't buy it:

    "Call Barry at work."
    brr-brr...brr-brr...
    "Yes, who is this?"
    "Oh, hi, Barry, it's me, Drew."
    "Um, I'm not Barry. And I'm not at work, either. I think you have a wrong number."
    "Who is this?"
    "This is Garry. I was busy playing Solitare."

    And also, does it integrate with my 3rd party emailer (Turnpike)? And three hundred dollars for something that automates dialling a number? I know this is aimed at business, but $300 is still a bit steep when all I have to do anyway is look up John's name in my little black book, dial his number and talk.

    • "Call Barry at work."
      brr-brr...brr-brr...
      "Yes, who is this?"
      "Oh, hi, Barry, it's me, Drew."
      "Um, I'm not Barry. And I'm not at work, either. I think you have a wrong number."


      Wait! How does Gary know you were calling Barry at work??

      OH MY GAWD!!! HE'S SPYING ON YOU!!

      Hang up now and begin probing your orifaces looking for where they have hidden the microphone!!
    • And three hundred dollars for something that automates dialling a number?

      I've got a few friends with phones that do this. They got the phone free with their 12 month contract, and have voice dial for upto 10 numbers. No fancy recognition, just record your voice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2002 @03:37PM (#3926762)
    OK, so this phone does speech recognition. That's cool, if not exactly ground-breakingly new. But does the speech recognition actually work?

    Students of this sort of thing are taught all about the problems of getting speech recognition to work in noisy environments, in a car, in a restaurant, in a busy street etc. On top of the noise compensation problems, you have something called the Lombard effect, which means that when they're in a noisy environment PEOPLE TEND TO SHOUT INTO THEIR PHONE to try and make themselves heard. And this means that the speech you used to train your phone in your nice quiet office no longer matches the aggressive shouty tone of voice you're currently using.

    True, there are ways and means round both of these problems. But they're by no means 100%, or even 95% reliable. And if I buy a phone that has speech recognition as its primary (its only?) interface, I'd want to make pretty damn sure I can use it anywhere.

    So, the question for Noah - you can use this phone while changing a diaper, or around the breakfast table, but can you use it in the middle of Grand Central Station?
    • This would be relavant if it was a cellular telephone and not a cordless telephone. This particular phone is meant for home or office use. Now, I haven't been to New York in a long time, but the last time I was there I remember anyone working in the various stations as having two way radios not telephones, and those that did have telephones were in booths using hard lines.
    • Students of this sort of thing are taught all about the problems of getting speech recognition to work in noisy environments, in a car, in a restaurant, in a busy street etc. On top of the noise compensation problems, you have something called the Lombard effect, which means that when they're in a noisy environment PEOPLE TEND TO SHOUT INTO THEIR PHONE to try and make themselves heard. And this means that the speech you used to train your phone in your nice quiet office no longer matches the aggressive shouty tone of voice you're currently using.

      I have a Samsung wireless phone from Srint PCS and the voice recognition seems to work at least some of the time when I'm in a crowded room. If there's too much background noise, it won't work no matter what. But in an average restaurant it seems to work fine, it's when you go to a bar with noisy music and people talking loudly that it tends not to work, shouting or no shouting.
      • I just had a thought! Wouldn't a bone mic or throat mic be helpful in noisy environments? I understand that they only pick up the vibrations through your skull or directly from your larynx and not through the air, so it wuoldn't matter how loud the ambient noise is, the jabra wouldn't actually pick it up.
        http://www.ntt-at.com/products_e/earphone/
    • I find it always amusing, that people demand at least 95% reliability from speech recoqnition, when they themselves do not always succeed in it. When people hear words, they often think about them in combinations and context, to deduce what they really meant.

      Speech recognition, as used here, is used to figure out atomic words, such as names and numbers. At least I myself often get these wrong (when spoken to me) and need to ask again if I heard correctly.
    • You missed the point. Obviously this phone is designed for use in the office environment. It isn't designed to used in the middle of grand central station. If you want that get voice dial from Sprint PCS. That will work there.
    • It's a cordless phone, not a cellphone. It will only work near the base station (c. 30m range, IIRC). At home, noise should not be an issue, 'coz you can always go into another room or just yell at the kids to shut up!
  • http://misterhouse.sourceforge.net/

    Enjoy
    • ArialPhone doesn't include software to control X10. That's where Misterhouse comes in.

      This hardware can be used to pipe sound from the ArialPhone into the Windows box to interface with the MisterHouse Voice Interface.

      ArialPhone has recently release a software package that will let the ArialPhone act as a wireless headset mic to pump sound to and from the computer. Any Voice software can be used with the ArialPhone hardware.

      - Noah
  • Another way.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Note that this is also possible using ericssons wireless headset (bluetooth) and a bluetooth enabeled phone.

    I have one of those bluetooth phones (ericsson T-38) (around 100-150 dollars). And it works great!
  • by Embedded Geek ( 532893 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @03:54PM (#3926812) Homepage
    'Could lead to all kinds of weirdness. Case in point...

    Bob: "So, you really like that tiny phone?"
    Ted: "It's fantastic. It's so light I barely notice I'm wearing it. I bought it right after that horrible stuff in New York."
    Bob: "You mean the nine-eleven attacks?"
    Ted: "Yeah, although I hear you're supposed to call them 'nine-one-one.'"
    Alice (911 Operator): "Hello. Please tell me what the nature of the emergency is."
    Bob: "Hey, aren't you wearing your phone now?"
    Ted: "uh-oh..."
    Alice: "Sir, abusing the Emergency Response line is *not* funny..."

    (And I won't even get into what happens if you badmouth an ex by name while wearing one... although 911 might come in handy)
  • Saw it on TV (Score:2, Interesting)

    A local computer reviewer had a bit on this unit - said it was nearly impossible to get the earpiece/mic unit to stay on the site of their head, and that they found it uncomfortably heavy.

    I'd prefer something that used a small in-ear speaker/mic combination (something like my pair of Sony EX70LPs, although those don't have mics) and a small pager-sized beltpack.

    Besides looking like a spy, I think it would be less intrusive and not look like you had become a borg drone.
  • nahh...they got their design wrong!

    Re-design [starland.com] it and you'll have everyone at slashdot buying it!
  • by Eddy Johnson ( 467614 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @04:23PM (#3926893)
    This would be a really bad phone for those who are:
    • Valley Girls.
    • working out math problems aloud.
    • trying to memorize pi.
    • telling someone their social security number.
    • telling someone their credit card number.
    • teaching their child what to do in case of emergency.
    • Muppets on Seasame Street.
    • algebra or calculus teachers.
    • hearing voices in their head.
    • Slashdotters reviewing their karma scores.
    • I bought the phone and tried reading out karma scores to see what kind of negative effect it brought, and I couldn't find anything.

      Here's what I said:

      Excellent, Terrible, Neutral, Positive, Good, Bad, Terrible, Excellent, Neutral, Good.
      To be perfectly honest mine didn't do anything strange after this. Maybe you should your defective one back to the manufacturer and try to get a new one.
  • "not about linux" (Score:2, Informative)

    by AyeFly ( 242460 )
    Please stop apologizing for stories not being about Linux! they don't have to be... according to the Slashdot faq,

    "There are many components to the Slashdot Omelette. Stories about Linux. Tech stories. Science. Legos. Book Reviews. Yes, even Jon Katz. By mixing and matching these things each and every day, we bring you what I call Slashdot."

    Just a random thought...
  • but it doesn't seem particlarly small.

    in fact, aside from the voice recognition - which some mobile phones have - how is this all that different from

    bluetooth headsets for mobile phones?
    http://www.expansys.com/product.asp?code= HBH-30

    they're not any larger and they work with you mobile phone

  • Voice Recognition? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by taernim ( 557097 )
    If this thing relies almost solely (if not completely) on voice recognition, how accurate are the results?
    I have a mid-range priced phone by Verizon that supports voice recognition. The thing is ok, but it isn't very accurate... especially with multiple words.

    For example, when I tried to call "Rob cell"... I got back:

    Automated voice: "Did you say 'Rob Work'?"
    Me:"No"
    Automated voice: "Did you say 'Rob home'?"
    Me:"No"
    Automated voice: "Did you say 'Robert apartment'?"
    Me:"NO"
    Automated voice: "Did you say 'Robert cell'?"
    Me:"NO!!"
    Automated voice: "Calling: 'Robert cell'"
    Me:"GRRR!"
    • If this thing relies almost solely (if not completely) on voice recognition, how accurate are the results?

      I think with the current technology you will have to put some thought into your cell phone naming conventions. For starters you may not want to use the first names. I use the initials in mine and it seems to work fine.

  • Super-small Voice-controlled Wireless Phone

    now I'm going to need my Super-large(tm) microscope to press the buttons or tweak the insides...
  • When the phone fits in your ear like a hearing aid.
  • What kind of range does this device have from the base unit?

    What is the sound quality like?

    How does the headset respond to sources of interference like running microwave ovens?

    How long does a charged battery last compared to the manufacturer's claim?
  • Why not just get one of these [nextlink.to], and hack together some software? Marginally cheaper, but much cooler, and potentially useful for more than just phone calls.

    Personally, I can't wait until I can get CD-quality stereo out of two little earpieces like that. I guess the bandwidth is a bit low now, but surely Bluetooth 2.0 could do it.
  • I can't wait to get one and hook it up to my Mac!

    Huh? Oh, I can't wait to get one to hook to my Linux box!

    What?

    I guess I can wait.
  • Dialing by saying a name is nothing new -- many cell phones do it. All the ones I've had did it poorly. Is this any better?

    Dialing by saying numbers is something I wish my cell phone had. It should be very simple to implement, and very useful.
  • I just can't wait till people start accedently swallowing their phones.
  • This seems like a pretty clunky piece of equipment. You can get telephone services that give you voice dialing with any phone. Many cell phones already have something like this built in. If, at least, the thing worked standalone and didn't use the PC for voice recognition. You can probably throw together an application like this from open source speech recognition and Linux telephony software fairly easily.
  • Most the managers and the MD have them here, I never realised they had voice rec on them though. Thats probably more due to the fact that the way they make a phone call is:

    "Secretary! Get Bob from Company A on the line now and put him through to me"

  • A couple questions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jester99 ( 23135 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @09:58PM (#3927928) Homepage
    1. What happens when you need to use an automated system? "Press 1 for ...." ?

    2. I thought the whole point of pressing a mute button was to be discrete about it. Not yell "MUTE!" into the ear of the person you -don't- want to hear you.

    3. "So, I was standing there, then there's this great flash of light, and in the muted silence that followed...."
    How does it know that I didn't just want to a) switch lines and b) shut off my mouthpiece?

    • probably:

      1. You press the button and say "dial one"

      2. You press the button, muting the phone so you are able to do your voice command (like mute, volume,..)

      3. You -need- to press the button to enter a command ..
  • Hmm, I've heard enought stories about the wireless mics in theatre and actors forgetting to take them off when they go to the bathroom ....
  • that the Submitter's name links to the "Arialphone User's Group"? Is it not completely obvious that this crappy Arialphone company is responsible for this post, and might have even PAID slashdot to post it???
  • by Cato ( 8296 ) on Monday July 22, 2002 @02:46AM (#3928740)
    There are now quite a few Bluetooth headsets for mobile phones (meaning you have much less radiation close to your head, by the way), and many of these phones have speech recognition. I use the Motorola Bluetooth headset with an Ericsson T68 and it works well. The speech recognition is OK indoors but quite unusable on the street. One good feature is that you can keep the keypad while listening to IVR prompts for 'press one' etc.

    And of course I can do GPRS, which is very useful for small web pages and email, even though I've clocked it recently at just 10 Kbps when doing a timed HTTP download...
  • A company I worked with briefly bought a couple. The key points were: (a) they are blighters to get working (b) the driver d/l is 170mb (the just up an iso of the latest cd) (c) the quality of sound is good, and it does link nicely into outlook (d) the easiest way to use it is to use the software's OSD to dial (also how to enter things like p/wrds or cc numbers over the phone) Initially the voice recognition was a bit dire, but it did improve with use; although we noted that the biggest boost to accuracy could be gained by talking with an american accent (honest!)...
  • Hmm.. i think the phone won't be too popular here in Europe; at least not while the system is on the same frequency as GSM. On the other hand, it's not on the "free" overpopulated 2.4 GHz (microwave, WLAN) area.

    What i'd like to see is this phone working with a Bluetooth or DECT link instead. DECT would be better for range, but Bluetooth would be, well, niftier ;)

    • ~llaurén
  • This occurs to me every time the topic of voice activation comes up... do you really want everyone within earshot hearing who you're calling, or worse, what number you're actually dialing? Picture it... you're in parking lot of your office and say to your phone, "Gloria Stitz, call". Maybe no one knows that Gloria is your beautiful, lonely neighbor, trapped in a loveless marriage, and no one would be able to put two and two together, based on the fact that you're calling her in the middle of the day, when the kids are at school and your wife is at her Pilates class. On the other hand, though....
  • This so reminds me of a stripped down version of the old Ericsson Cybergenie. The only difference is that the Cybergenie supported multiple extensions acted like a mini PBX for those extensions included voice mail and ran two incoming pots lines. It has a slew of other features and supported multiple interfaces to the unit including a headset unit that could be worn.

    These things can be picked up for less than this product is selling also at around 100 dollars used.

    Amazon Cyber Genie [amazon.com]
  • It's a "cordless", not a "wireless". Nonsensical as the distinction may seem, in current usage the two are very different. And /. editors should know the difference.

    Somewhat interesting product. Fairly weak review.

    When this is applied to cell phones (yes, "wireless") it will really be interesting. I foresaw this as an inevitable result of voice recognition and cell technology miniaturization a couple years ago and have been waiting for it ever since. Guess I'll have to wait a while longer.

  • (Noah Bergevin here. I finally got the whole registration thing worked out...)

    To start out with, I'd like to set the record straight. I don't work for ArialPhone, and I haven't and will not receive one red cent from anyone for my opinions.

    I've been using this product for about a month and a half, and I like it. It suits my needs in my home-office environment.

    I think a few of the readers are missing some key points.

    First off, the ArialPhone isn't all things to all people. Every situation has a different need, and a different set of solutions. This one seems to fit my needs and my situation.

    It isn't a cell phone. It's a cordless phone. How often do you take a cordless phone to a noisy environment like Grand Central Station? Some cell phones do have voice dialing, but how many rely almost completely on voice commands for operating the phone?

    It isn't Bluetooth. I'm a big fan of Bluetooth, and am eagerly awaiting it's acceptance into the mainstream. However, I don't think Bluetooth would make a very good cordless phone; I think it would have the range of a $15 pair of walkie-talkies. Bluetooth is meant to be the RF link in a Personal Area Network in the 2.4ghz spectrum, amongst other devices fighting for bandwidth, (802.11b, HomeRF, Microwave Lighting, etc). 900mhz digital cordless phones have proven themselves as being able to "play nice with each other" for quite some time.

    Voice Recognition isn't perfect, but there are some things you can do to make it useable. First off, the Voice Recognition software that comes with the ArialPhone doesn't have the full Oxford English Dictionary to try to guess what you are trying to say. It has a very simple dictionary, composed only of the phone commands, numbers, and the names of the Contacts from your address book. Voice Recognition does a lot better on a multiple-choice test than a sort essay, (as do the rest of us). If it knows that the first word you are going to say is either "Call", "Dial", "Hang-Up", "Mute", "Hold", "Press", "Flash", or "Cancel", it has a pretty good chance of getting it right. I also have a scaled-down list of contacts in my address book instead of everyone in my Outlook Contacts; fewer choices mean it has a better chance of getting a good match, and during a normal work day you probably only call a handful of people on a regular basis. Sure, it has a hard time hearing you with the kid screaming in your ear, but the person on the other end probably can't hear you very well either; it's time to take a second and find out what's wrong with the kid before continuing w/ your conversaion.

    Yes, it does require Windows. It was a business call that ArialPhone made as a Startup Company, and who is to say that down the road they won't decide to release a Linux/Mac verion of the software.

    This really isn't a home phone, (unless you can shell out the cash). It's an Office tool. It's designed for helping with the day-to-day communications needed to complete whatever business process you're into. It is useful for not only automating the process, but being able to improve on the form factor, (I don't know how many times I've yanked the earpiece out of my other cordless phone while walking past the chair...). I can wear the earpiece around all day comfortably, and not have to worry about where I left the old bulky cordless.

    Lastly, this isn't the end-all-be-all of Telephony. There are already phones that do much the same thing - talk to people seperated by some distance. But, why didn't we stop at the two-tin-cans-and-string? This is just a step in the evolutionary process of communication devices. This will die out in it's time, and another newer, fancier, more technilogically advanced verion will take it's place. I'm just glad to see it moving in an upwards direction.

    Just my $0.02.

    - Noah Bergevin

One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.

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