Look, Officer, No Hands

Voice-on-the-Go is endangering a species: that galvanizing stock figure of our times, the driver yakking on the cell phone. You’ve seen him, you may even be her. If so, Voice-On-The-Go wants to render you extinct.

The first time I waited behind a car with an AM I LATE vanity plate, watching its power-suited driver cradle her cell to her ear in the now familiar gesture, was also my first and only road rage incident. The second the light turned green, I goosed my horn, an act of automotive aggression unprecedented in thirty years of timid driving. I’m a nice person — really — but she brought something out in me I never suspected was there.

And not just in me but in legislatures. Hands-free and eyes-free driving laws prevail in over 50 countries—the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand—and the number of US states and cities includes New York, New Jersey, California and Washington DC. Many more states have legislation pending and recently, DWTM, Driving While Text Messaging, was banned.

The Toronto-based mobile voice solutions provider takes care of all that by taking your driving hands and eyes completely out of the picture. Voice-On-The-Go lets you receive calls and search your contacts to place calls — look officer, no cell phone!

Then you can listen to your e-mail in-box summary, delete the spam and messages from ex-wives, open the e-mails you want to hear, and compose your replies thoughtfully before deciding whether to send them or not — look, no BlackBerry! Oh, and because you can also review and add to your calendar, you can change that vanity plate to NEVERL8.

“Although we used some off-the-shelf things like Nuance,” says company president Arnison, “our implementation is unique. People call into a central hosted or ASP that ensures high recognition. It works for individual consumers, and there’s a secure full enterprise system for businesses as well.”

Since 2001, Voice-On-The-Go has worked out on many of Internet voice technology’s problematic aspects — difficult voice recognition, for example — and on making their products extremely user-friendly.

Voice-on-the-Go’s secret sauce is its use of technology that enables rich applications. “It has rich techniques for making perfect connections on voice calls very fast even if the user has 10,000 e-mails or contacts,” according to Arnison.

For the tech-at-heart, these include VXML2.0, which enables very rich applications with context jumping, inlying and external grammars, and ECMA scripts. From an application point of view, VXML provides realtime access to corporate e-mail systems and to PIMs.

Hooking up requires no voice training or special hardware or software downloads. You just use a local access number in North America. And because of its two billion-plus global market, it can talk to you in English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and German, not to mention it uses for the physically disabled and visually impaired. Right now, they’re offering a thirty-day free trial.

What’s more to the betterment of life as we know it, however, is that you can use it without drawing the attention of the law or the random hatred of people who see you. You’ll just look like any other person talking to himself in the car.