Wireless fantasies

Network World Wireless in the Enterprise Newsletter, 02/19/01

I saw a made-for-TV movie about a year ago, set slightly in the future, in which a woman was being harassed by a cyberstalker. The take-away from this particular show wasn’t the twisted criminal mind of the perp, the intriguing plot, or the characters’ convincing acting abilities. It was the ease-of-use of wireless technology.

An entire wall in the home of the woman being stalked was a monitor. She could walk around the house, yell " Read e-mail! " and the system would begin playing back e-mail messages for her, either in text, voice or video form. All the commands she executed were voice-activated as she roamed, unwired, from room to room. She didn’t strain her eyes or wreck her spine, hunched over a computer keyboard or PDA screen, or develop carpal tunnel syndrome by typing answers to hundreds of e-mails everyday.

I’m not 100% sure how this setup worked (I imagine that the scriptwriters aren’t, either). But it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Bluetooth, HomeRF, or 802.11b with integrated voice recognition could make it work. One way or another, wireless voice access to the Internet and corporate intranets could develop as a killer mobile application for wireless LANs and WANs.

The Voice XML Forum -- a consortium of hundreds of companies, led by Motorola, for example -- is settling on a voice XML standard to enable Internet access using WAP phones. Currently, multiple voice markup languages developed independently by different speech companies exist. These include VoiceXML, VXML, and VoXML. All these solutions, so far, still involve the use of phones. In my fantasy, hidden transceivers planted in the walls would alleviate me from ever having to futz with any device at all.

Next up: Other voice access activity.

This story, "Wireless fantasies " was originally published by Network World.

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