Friday, December 11, 2009

Cool Technology of the Week

Have you ever been tempted to read your email while driving? In Brookline, it's already illegal and in Boston we may soon see new restrictions. is a mobile application that reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without touching the mobile phone. It's available for Blackberry, iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile.

The free version reads the first 25 words of the message in a female voice and offers an optional text/email auto-responder such as "I'm driving right now but will followup when I arrive at my destination"

The $13.95 version grants a license for the lifetime of the phone, reads the first 500 words of each message, offers a selection of voices, and includes the same autoresponder.

I installed the application wirelessly on my Blackberry Bold (it appears in the Downloads folder) and activated the service. Each incoming email is automatically read aloud without touching the device. You can manually select an email or message to be re-read if needed.

The performance was great - a few seconds via 3G AT&T service to upload each mail message, convert text to speech and play the audio message. Since it happens automatically, there is no need to pick up your mobile device while driving ever again.

You can drive safely and still stay in touch. That's cool!


Frank Bresz said...

We have banned this application as there is some concerns regarding the method they use to do the speaking. Seems it may essentially take your email/sms data and send it elsewhere to aid in the speaking.

Not sure of all the details - but please do be cautious.

Lorraine and Peter said...

Given that people will do what they want, laws or not, when it comes to cell phones and 24x7 access to email and internet information, maybe we can leverage that addiction in a positive way - with our own federal advisory committees...what if we gave every member of national committees, such as NCVHS, HITSP, HITPC, HITSC, their own Kindle, Nook or other eBook, to use to view all of the presentations and testimony for each meeting or hearing? This would effectively eliminate the need to print (and waste) tens of thousands of pages of paper doucments that are provided for meetings. This fits with the efficiency efforts your hospital, and other organizations are attempting to implement... saves time and eliminates waste. It also meets the government's goal to be environmentally responsible and a model for such behavior(even though there is embodied energy in the manufacture of the devices). Perhaps you can be a pioneer in this type of "interoperability" and innovation too...

Jack said...

Hmmmm...enticing. I try to limit my cell phone use while driving because it is one of the last few regular think time periods I have.

I used to feel that hands-free cell phone use was no worse a distraction than speaking to someone in the passenger's seat but recent research says otherwise (a Slate article is a start to other references: ).

Apparently the brain cycles it takes to process a hands-free cell call is more distracting than those used for a conversation with a live person sitting next to you.

I am curious about you view of that.

In the meantime, choices choices... (there's an app for that)...