m-Companion – the mobile electronic companion
Have you ever been lost in town, desperately looking for your customer’s building, and nobody at hand to tell you which way to go? Have you ever been walking in a foreign country, without a city map or guide, unable to ask for directions in the local language? Have you ever been looking for a friend’s cottage, wondering why you didn’t purchase that smart navigation system with your new car? If this sounds familiar, there may be a solution coming. Web2tel, a young company from Sophia-Antipolis, located in the French Telecom Valley, is developing an innovative product specially intended to help you.
m-Companion is an interactive service designed to help people move within and discover public areas. It provides walking or driving directions as well as user- and locationdependent information. For example: train or airline departure times, restaurant menus, shop promotions, hotel room availability, or tourist information.
The core of m-Companion is an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service coupled with a Geographical Information System (GIS). Pick up your cell phone, call m-Companion and ask for directions. The IVR includes state of the art Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology and a database of all known streets, roads, places, parks, corners, and other location names. You say where you are and where you want to go. m-Companion then calculates the best itinerary and tells you the walking instructions using best in class Speech Synthesis.
Don’t even know where you are? All right, you need an extra device: a satellite positioning receiver. Connect it to your cell phone, and m-Companion will use the satellite data to locate you. The complete solution is comparable to a car navigation system, and substantially cheaper.
As of today, you can purchase a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver from your local electronics dealer. GPS still has some limitations in some parts of the globe, such as Northern Europe, dense urban areas, and inside buildings. This limitation will be overcome when Galileo, the European satellite positioning system, is launched. This will open a whole range of new applications, such as traveler guides inside airports, train stations, and museums, or buyer guides inside shopping areas and malls. Don’t even know where you are going? All right, maybe you should try the visitor’s guide section of m-Companion…
m-Companion: Highly-specific user- and locationdependent information m-Companion is an interactive service designed to assist people move around and discover public areas. It provides walking or driving directions as well as user- and locationdependent information. For example: train or airline departure times, restaurant menus, shop promotions, hotel room availability, tourist information.
- The end-user equipment is light and cheap:
In its simplest form, the user needs to carry nothing but a standard GSM handset. A low-end GSM handset is appropriate, because m-Companion provides information as an audio stream. A Galileo or GPS receiver may be added for automatic positioning. No database or software license is needed.
- Instructions are highly specific:
Information is selected to match user’s preferences:
business, travel, shopping, …
instructions can be very detailed, for example depending on floor and corridor
inside a multi-storey building.