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Hands up: EADS engineers control computers with gestures and voice


Joint press release from Fraunhofer FIRST and Siemens Business Services

Munich, Sep 8, 2006 - Service engineers of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) are currently testing how PDAs can be controlled with gestures and voice. ACV GmbH, Fraunhofer FIRST, Loquendo S.p.A., SAP, Siemens Business Services and Graz University of Technology are cooperating with EADS in this pilot project.

Nowadays, a PDA or small laptop is part of the standard equipment for service engineers In many industries. Often they use these devices to call up construction plans, checklists and other work aids from a central server using GPRS. The problem is: How are they supposed to operate the keyboard if, as is the case at EADS, they are working in the confined space inside an engine and are also holding tools?

The solution: simply tell or show the computer what needs to be done. For this purpose, the engineers have a small computer attached to their belt and an ultralight headset with microphone, earphone and camera on their head. They use their voice to control actions via the computer’s menu, and instructions are displayed or relayed audibly on the PDA. And if it is too loud for voice control because they cannot even hear themselves speaking, a camera recognizes nine different gestures with which the PDA can be controlled. EADS engineers will test the first prototypes in Toulouse as of September 2006.

A recent survey from EADS points out that 50 percent of working hours are spent on searching for the right information – and it’s difficult to examine an aircraft engine with a stack of paper in your hand.

“We believe that in a few years there will be a large market for such solutions,” says Siegfried Bublitz from C-Lab, the innovation center of Siemens Business Services.

A picture can be obtained at:

Industry and research organizations are working closely together on a research project called SNOW (Services for Nomadic Workers) sponsored by the EU. Fraunhofer FIRST enables the terminal users to switch to and fro between voice, gestures and the keyboard at any time. For this purpose, it develops the software required for the terminals and integrates and validates the technology.
SAP has defined an XML-based language to define the user interface for a wide range of terminals and ensures that the appropriate documents are loaded in response to the engineer’s spoken commands and gestures.
Engineers at Siemens Business Services are working on a system to ensure that the server supplies the information requested from the mobile terminal in the correct manner, regardless of the nature of the device. For example, the server recognizes which screen resolution or memory capacity the particular terminal has. SBS enables the engineers to store their own information in voice, written or video form on the central server via PDA. For checklists, for example, this means that the transfer from paper to the IT system, which was standard practice in the past, is no longer required - and that saves time.
The right tone for voice support is guaranteed by Loquendo S.p.A., a subsidiary of Telecom Italia, and Technische Universität Graz using software which filters out noise and other disturbing influences. The solution for recognizing gestures is provided by the Austrian company Advanced Computer Vision (ACV) GmbH.

Siemens Business Services is an internationally leading IT service provider.
DThis Siemens Group offers services all along the entire value chain – from consulting to systems integration, right through to the management of IT infrastructures. Thanks to its comprehensive know-how and sector-specific expertise, the company provides measurable added value for its customers. With regard to outsourcing, Siemens Business Services is among the top ten providers worldwide. With around 39,000 employees, the Group posted sales in fiscal 2005 (ending 30 September 2005) of EUR 5.4 billion, 75 percent of which was achieved outside the Siemens organization. Further information at

The Fraunhofer-Instituts für Rechnerarchitektur und Softwaretechnik FIRST (Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Architecture and Software Technology) focuses on developing information technologies for intelligent data analysis, embedded and security-related systems, and innovative interactive technologies between man and machine. Fraunhofer FIRST was set up in 1983 as an institute of the Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung (Association for Mathematics and Data Processing - GMD) and has been part of the Information and Communication Group of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft since July 2001.. In 2005, approximately 150 people were employed by Fraunhofer FIRST at Berlin-Adlershof. Further information is available at

Information number: SBS 080906.35e


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