The ComBadge is a two-way voice messaging device with a simple spoken user interface. This project encompasses the hardware, software, and user interface designs. A primary design goal has been to reduce the users' cognitive load, thus creating a communications device that is very simple and natural to use.
Background & Objective: This project is developing a communication device that can be controlled solely via speech and would be less expensive to produce and to operate than a cellular phone. This would create new sales opportunities for such devices in segments of the market where cell phone penetration is lowest, such as in the developing world.
Technical Discussion: ComBadge device costs are kept low by eliminating the display and keypad. Infrastructure costs are reduced by allowing more devices to share the available bandwidth because the messages are compressed and, therefore, relatively short and the communication is asynchronous. The spoken command set is small, so that it can be easily learned and remembered, and recognized with few errors -- we currently support both English and Tamil (an Indian language) interfaces. Familiar names are used to contact other users by having each user add customized voice name tags for other ComBadges.
Speech recognition, audio compression, and radio transmission do not overlap, thereby reducing the peak power demand and extending battery life. Compression need not occur in real-time, which permits the use of a slower processor and/or a better compression algorithm. Inexpensive bandwidth intended for data, rather than voice, is used at all stages of the network and messages are delivered over the Internet.
Asynchronous messaging also has advantages for users. The device can be very small, since it has no display and does not need to reach from mouth to ear. Users are less aware of dead spots in network coverage and are less irritated by network overloading, since these conditions produce delays rather than dropped calls. Furthermore, the ComBadge is less intrusive because users determine when they want to listen and respond to messages.
We have also developed automated services that are contacted via ComBadge messages. Currently, ComBadge can control household devices and can act as a voice portal to weather information and stock quotes.
Frankel, J. L.; Bromberg, D., “Combadge: A Voice Messaging Device for the Masses”, Asian Applied Computing Conference (AACC), Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing pp. 248-256, December 2005 (AACC, TR2005-161)
Modification Date: September 12, 2007