Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Bosch Corporation in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, in collaboration with scientists at Robert Bosch GmbH in Germany,
are to unveil "Speech-Controlled Wearable Computers for Automotive Shop Workers"
at the Society of Automotive
Engineers (SAE) 2001
World Congress in Detroit next March.

The team is developing a small, speech-controlled mobile computer that automotive
technicians can wear while inspecting vehicles and making repairs.

Today, vehicle inspection and maintenance are often conducted using time-consuming
paper forms. The service technician collects data on paper and carries it on
a clipboard throughout the shop. When the work is completed, the technician
often must enter the data into a computer for further processing.

"Wearable computers offer great advantages for workers in many industries,
including automotive," says Christian Burgy, Carnegie Mellon University.
"These devices eliminate paper-based data collection, saving workers time
and helping to increase the quality of the job performed."

For example, instead of carrying manuals or approaching a PC to look up information
or order parts, a technician using the wearable computer can access inspection
data and control measurement devices — all without taking his hands off the
vehicle. He may also communicate with other technicians on the floor and in
the main office.

To develop the prototype device, researchers interviewed automotive technicians
to evaluate worker needs. "We did not want to overwhelm them with technology
too complicated to use," says Markus Klausner, Robert Bosch Corporation.
"The idea is to simplify their jobs. We believe that these devices have
great potential in many industries and for many applications."

To date, several prototypes have been developed based on user feedback, and
the researchers are continuing to perfect the hardware and software for optimal
functionality.