Quick Hits

It’s no secret that road trips tend to run smoother without constantly stopping for directions. And, with that in mind, IBM Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Inc. have joined forces to bring the “Touch by Voice” navigation system powered by Big Blue’s ViaVoice technology and software to select 2003 model Accords. The Touch by Voice system uses IBM’s speech technology in its command and control form of Automatic Speech Recognition that uses human speech to input commands into a mobile device. With the system, Accord drivers can ask for directions without taking their hands off the wheel using a “talk” button located on the steering wheel. Touch by Voice also recognizes commands like, “find nearest gas station,” or “find nearest Italian restaurant,” according to the companies. The system is integrated into the Accord’s audio system and driving instructions are heard over the car’s speakers. Touch by Voice also links to climate control to keep passengers cool and collected while on the road. The new Accords are set for release in early September.

CellBucks, get yer CellBucks!

For avid sports fans, missing even a second of the game can be devastating, but when your stomach’s growling, you have no choice but to miss out – or do you? For CellBucks, not even food is more important than the big game. CellBucks’ technology offers users the ability to place menu orders from stadium seats via any cell phone. According to the company, users can visit www.cellbucks.com and register as a new member by providing some basic information and a credit card number. Participating stadiums will supply fans with a menu that comes with a toll-free number and food options. Once a user makes a selection, the call is sent to the corresponding stadium kitchen and the food is delivered to the person’s seat. The Internet-based technology accepts orders only from Web browsers that permit communication through Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and users are updated via e-mail on transactions and account activity.

On your mark, get set, go

Dubbed the “ultimate road test,” Motor Trend magazine put the pedal to the metal to test the limits of the new 2003 Hummer H2 with the help of Toronto-based Iridium Satellite LLC. The satellite voice and data communications company enabled an estimated 1 million people to track the performance of the H2 as it trudged through a 10,000-mile adventure starting in Alaska, through northern Canada and back down to Florida in an effort to test the vehicle’s “go anywhere” reputation. The trip, which ran from July 8 to 17, and the second leg, which ran from Aug. 3 to 11, was posted daily on Motor Trend‘s Web site complete with a road trip diary with text and photos loaded directly from the field using Iridium’s satellite voice and data technology.

Palm in the middle

With back-to-school just around the corner, Palm Canada, Inc. and Pepsi-Cola have teamed up with Fox Network’s Malcolm in the Middle star, Frankie Muniz, to promote its price reductions on several Palm handheld models. And, effective now through Sept. 9 in Canada, customers who purchase the Palm m125s will receive a $30 rebate through the new campaign. The Palm m125 has been reduced from $299 to $219 after the rebate. A Palm spokesperson said that through the promotion, the company is looking to provide students with “a helpful technology tool that will change the way they study, organize their schedules and manage important information.” The deal represents the first partnership for Pepsi-Cola and Palm Canada. Details are available at http://www.palm.com/promotions/back2school.

Canadians can help themselves

According to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll, 64 per cent of Canadians prefer shopping in stores with self-service technology without the assistance, or lack thereof, of store employees. When asked about their last 10 shopping trips, those surveyed reported an average wait time of 12.5 minutes for store staff to provide service. Younger Canadians aged 18 to 34 years reported wait times of 13.4 and 13.6 minutes, while older Canadians aged 55 and up wait approximately 9.8 minutes. The study was commissioned by NCR Corp., a Dayton, Ohio-based provider of ATMs, retail systems and IT services. NCR said that in-store technology such as Web-enabled kiosks and self-checkout enhance shopping experiences by giving customers more control, while freeing up staff to provide more unique value-added services during face-to-face interaction.