ArialPhone Voice-Activated Headset
By Joel Shore
I’m on the phone for hours
every day—and my neck was always sore. First to go was that phone’s
handset, replaced by a more comfortable headset. But I was still
tethered by that darn cord. The solution? A wireless headset. Not just
one without wires—there are dozens of those—but one that’s smart
enough to know about the hundreds of phone numbers stored in my
One solution is the ArialPhone’s voice-activated wireless headset,
which combines wireless operation and speech recognition technology
into a one-ounce earpiece that works with many PC contact management
ArialPhone consists of three components: the earpiece (a headset with
an earpiece and boom-mounted microphone), voice-dialing software, and
a hardware base station that you connect to your phone line and to a
USB port on your PC. The earpiece communicates with the base station
via a 900MHz digital spread spectrum radio frequency link, just like
most modern cordless phones. The maximum range is about 150 feet.
To use the ArialPhone, you press the headset’s “action button.” This
lets the base station know you’re about to speak a voice command. You
the magic words, instructing the ArialPhone software to access your
Outlook phone directory. The call is then placed as directed.
I found the need to reach up behind my ear to press the action button
a bit annoying. It’s necessary, especially if you’re a hundred
feet away from your PC, but it seemed a little weird to me.
Another limitation might be the size of your Outlook database. For best
performance, ArialPhone recommends that you have no more than about
500 contacts. That could be a problem for people who are on the phone
a lot. But with nearly 2,200 contacts in my Outlook database I didn’t
have a problem.
To use the ArialPhone, press the headset’s “action button” then speak
the magic words to search your Outlook database.
A rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the earset, good enough for
two to three hours of talk time. Recharge time is about two hours. The
base station has two charging slots and comes with two batteries, so
you’ll always have a fully charged battery ready to go.
There’s not much in the way of printed documentation. An illustrated
booklet leads you through the steps to get the hardware installed,
charged up, and ready to use. Everything you need to know about
actually using the ArialPhone to make calls is contained in the
ArialPhone software application.
ArialPhone requires no customization and is ready to use “out of the
box.” Through the use of speaker-independent voice recognition
technology, the device enables the use of intuitive and natural
language-based commands, eliminating the need for any voice training
prior to operation. And, no PC integration on the part of the user is
necessary: ArialPhone accesses PC-resident contact management systems
via a dynamic interface. Currently, ArialPhone Corp. offers such an
interface to Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, with interfaces to
other leading contact managers slated for availability soon.
While the current software is set up to work only with ArialPhone, its
“open platform” design will enable third-party developers to use the
company’s voice user interface to power their vertical market software
applications. Remote dictation of medical notes, completion of legal
forms and public safety documentation are only a few of the numerous
possible future applications envisioned by ArialPhone management
through third-party development efforts. Because of its modular
design, the ArialPhone software will also be able to work with headset
devices from other manufacturers in the future. Future ArialPhone
applications will enable Internet calling and voice control of digital
entertainment and other home automation functions, such as changing TV
channels; recording TV programs; controlling digital music players,
set top boxes and cable modems; and even turning lights off and on.<