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IBM Helps Simplify Campus Life With Speech-Enabled Web Applications for Mobile Phones in Wake Forest University Program


Speech on Mobile Devices Can Be Extended to Field and Sales Forces, Healthcare Providers, Industry and Emergency Response Teams.

ARMONK, NY - 24 Feb 2006: IBM announced today that it has developed a portfolio of speech-enabled Web applications for mobile phones to help simplify campus life by automating mundane tasks. Two of the applications are being tested by students, faculty and staff in MobileU™, a program deployed at Wake Forest University using advanced mobile technologies.

IBM is partnering with universities as a test-bed for technologies that can be extended to numerous industries, including sales forces, physicians and emergency response teams.

Wake Forest University is recognized as a technology leader in higher education and was among the first universities in the country to provide laptop computers to its undergraduate students in 1996. Wake Forest University is currently looking toward the next generation of converged computing, in collaboration with IBM, to improve education and campus life through the use of open standards, mobile and voice technologies.

As a first example of that, MobileU™ uses IBM WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment™ software on mobile phones to help make it easier to take transportation around campus and use laundry machines. Students participating in the Wake Forest MobileU™ program can now find out exactly what time the next bus is going to arrive or if there are any laundry machines available before they leave their dorm room, the library or other locations.

The Wake Forest MobileU™ program currently includes:

Shuttle bus tracking -- Students participating in the MobileU™ program can say “When will the next bus arrive?” into their mobile phone, and the phone will respond with a voice telling them how many minutes it will take for their bus to arrive at any given stop. Global Positioning Satellite devices inside the buses use GPRS cellular technology to transmit location information from buses to servers on campus and ultimately to a student’s mobile phone to tell them how long they have to wait.

LaundryView™ -- IBM software augments an existing Web application by Mac-Gray Corporation (NYSE: TUC), the leading provider of laundry facilities management services to colleges and universities, to deliver speech-enabled laundry monitoring via their site. Students living in specially designed “Technology Quarters” (a small, residential living facility using advanced technologies), are using the software and can ask any Internet-connected device how many washers and dryers are currently in use, so they do not have to waste time walking to the laundry room only to discover that all machines are in use.

These initial trials have leveraged the thinking of IBM and Wake Forest University to enhance classroom activities with additional deployments of converged applications. IBM has also developed additional multimodal technologies that can voice-enable campus applications and services -- along with other industries -- including:

Parking lot monitoring -- End users wanting to know if there are parking spaces available before they get to a particular lot can simply ask their mobile phone, “Are there any spaces in lot ’C’?” Using sensors at checkpoints that keep count of the ingress and egress of cars in lots, for example tracking 100 cars driving in and 20 cars driving out, a user’s device can tell them if there are any spaces available so they don’t have to waste time driving around looking for a space.

Park and Pay-by-Cellphone -- The University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB) worked with IBM on North America’s first wireless parking solution integrated with payment stations. The UCSB solution has the capacity to eventually be speech-enabled with IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment™. UCSB selected IBM’s Workplace Client Technology Micro Edition™ (WCTME) mobile middleware that connects and extends applications from the server to a wide variety of devices, helping to enable wireless payment options in the UCSB parking system. Drivers call a phone number, punch in the stall number and park. They can purchase additional parking time remotely by making another phone call. Parking fees are charged to their credit card. The new system tracks enforcement through a wireless network connecting fifty payment stations.

Personal Information Management (PIM) system -- Users can ask their mobile phones what their email inbox contains, inform them audibly about their calendar entries, and read them instant messages, newspaper articles and more as they walk to class or drive in their cars. Using RSS feeds (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication XML grammar format for sharing headlines and Web content), where school and national newspapers are fed into a speech-enabled Web browser, news content can be read to students instead of having to glance at a small screen. News is fed over standard Web protocols and dynamically formatted for speech input and output.

The Web applications are hosted using IBM WebSphere Application Server™, and synchronized to the devices using IBM Workplace Client Technology Micro Edition™, a miniature application server that allows Web applications to continue to function in a disconnected state when wireless access is not available. Together with IBM WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment™ software, multiple forms of input and output have been enabled on these mobile devices to blend speech input and output, keyboard and touch screen access.

“Web-based multimodal and speech technologies are a welcome solution to the information overload we all face today, representing a fundamental change in the software capabilities of mobile devices. In fact, without them the Web would be practically useless on mobile phones,” said Igor Jablokov, Program Director of WebSphere Multimodal and Voice Portals. “Wake Forest is a leader in delivering personalized information to students and faculty virtually no matter where they are.”

“Through the MobileU™ project, we are taking a leadership position in the creation of new mobile services to enrich the campus experience,” said Jay Dominick, Assistant Vice President for Information Systems and CIO at Wake Forest University. “IBM continues to be a great choice and vendor to realize the potential in this arena. IBM’s WebSphere technologies are an important piece of our strategy to deliver these services for students and prepare them for their future careers in an increasingly mobile world.”

The products IBM has developed can be expanded to higher education institutions and other industries requiring similar capabilities around the world. The technology can be used to enable mobile field and sales forces, healthcare environments, municipalities, emergency response, commuter services and public transportation among other applications.

IBM’s multimodal technologies contain IBM Embedded ViaVoice™, allowing users to begin using Web applications immediately, with no previous speaker enrollment or training. Developers can today use the Eclipse-based IBM WebSphere Multimodal Toolkit™ to create XHTML+Voice (X+V) markup, based on ratified W3C® Recommendations, which is then hosted on WebSphere Application Server™, synchronized and deployed with WebSphere Client Technology Micro Edition™, and executed using the IBM WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment™. IBM WebSphere Mobile Portal™, WebSphere Portal Server™, and DB2™ are also used in the solutions.

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