Navigation Technologies is expanding rapidly in Europe, with launches in the past two weeks of real-time mapping for wireless location based services, a voice-enabled mapping system for wireless Internet, and the first digital navigation maps for the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Navigation Technologies is generally considered to be the leading provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation, Internet and wireless applications. The company is privately held and was founded in 1985 in Silicon Valley, California, with Philips Electronics as an early and continuing major investor. Corporate headquarters are now in Chicago, with 1,100 employees worldwide in 100 offices in 18 countries. European regional headquarters are in Best, The Netherlands.
Last week, Navigation Technologies announced that its NAVTECHmaps are now available in a voice-enabled format for Germany. The United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, and the United States are soon to follow later this year with initial releases in the native language of each country, the company said.
“The launch of NAVTECH voice data in Germany introduces new possibilities for voice applications that have already generated a great deal of interest among some of our most recognized customers,” said John MacLeod, Executive Vice President, North American & World Markets, Navigation Technologies Corporation.
Unlike existing systems that run street name data through software programs to create text-to-speech, NAVTECH voice data in Germany is developed based on local knowledge of street and administrative names, MacLeod said. A Navigation Technologies` field analyst team has worked with local authorities throughout Germany, from the tourism board to government offices, to research the correct local pronunciation of street and administrative area names. This ensures that systems using NAVTECH voice data recognize street names as popularly pronounced in addition to recognizing traditional phonetic pronunciation.
MacLeod said this is particularly important in a country like Germany in which many of the street names are lengthy. Most digital maps use an abbreviation of lengthy street names. For example, NAVTECH maps frequently abbreviate street names to fit into a 35-character name field. Systems translating this data into text-to-speech will result in a mispronunciation of the abbreviated names.
Systems leveraging the voice data will enable users to speak directly to their navigation units to tell them where they want to go. The system will speak back to them, telling them how to get there using actual names every step of the way. For example, today`s systems use generic, audible command and control directions like “turn right” or “stay to the left.” With the integration of voice data into NAVTECH data, navigation systems will offer specific spoken directions. For example, “Biegen Sie links ab auf den Potsdamer Platz.”
The company said the Czech Republic is a critical addition to NAVTECH maps given the number of major European roads that pass through the Czech Republic and are integral to routing throughout Western Europe. With the availability of Czech Republic NAVTECH maps, seamless direct routing from points in Germany to Austria, for example, is now possible for the first time.