Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ford Patent App Hints Next Gen Navi Systems Won't Talk to You if You're Angry

On March 5, 2009 the PTO published a patent application assigned to Ford Global Technologies entitled "Emotive Text To Speech System and Method. The app can be viewed here.

The concept of the invention seems to be a navigation system where you can just talk at the device and it figures out what you want. Some examples are:

"Are there any good restaurants in the area?" In response, the EAS 10 may query appropriate information sources 16n and, together with geographic location information from the vehicle systems 22, determine a list of highly rated restaurants near the current location of the vehicle 14."

or

"the occupant 14 may state "I feel like driving fast today." In response, the EAS 10 may ask "Would you like the drivetrain optimized for performance driving?"

This seems like a fairly normal progression of the navi systems currently on the market, but the "emotive" aspect of the system is a bit HAL like:

"For example, the sensors 18 may detect head movements, speech prosody, biometric information, etc. of the occupant 12 that, when processed by the computer 20, indicate that the occupant 12 is angry. In one example response, the EAS 10 may limit or discontinue dialog that it initiates with the occupant 12 while the occupant 12 is angry. In another example response, the avatar may be rendered in blue color tones with a concerned facial expression and ask in a calm voice "Is something bothering you?" If the occupant 12 responds by saying "Because of this traffic, I think I'm going to be late for work," the avatar may ask "Would you like me to find a faster route?" or "Is there someone you would like me to call?" If the occupant 12 responds by saying "No. This is the only way . . . ," the avatar may ask "Would you like to hear some classical music?" The occupant 12 may answer "No. But could you tell me about the upcoming elections?" In response, the EAS 10 may query the appropriate information sources 16n to gather the current news regarding the elections. During the query, if the communication link with the information sources 16n is strong, the avatar may appear happy. If, however, the communication link with the information sources 16n is weak, the avatar may appear sad, prompting the occupant to ask "Are you having difficulty getting news on the elections?" The avatar may answer "Yes, I'm having trouble establishing a remote communication link."

I don't know how many of us are ready to have that kind of conversation with our car (or at least have it talk back when we're venting).  A  photo from the patent application is below:


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