Peter Wengert - Inside Microsoft Automotive

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Mike Hall (remember his tour of the Windows embedded lab?) took his camcorder over to get a look inside what the Windows Automotive group is doing.

Check out this car! (Er, it's a Hummer that's decked out with some interesting technology). Lots of speech recognition technology here.



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    The Discussion

    • Sathyaish Chakravarthy
      Reminds me of a newspaper report a few months back saying Microsoft delivered its embedded operating system technology to a car manufacturer that enabled the car to render traffic and location information to its driver. This was in Bangalore I guess. I may be wrong about the place, but that report really had me overwhelmed.

      The coolest video ever on Channel 9. Thanks, Channel 9!
    • mikehall
      Are you thinking of Fiat ? - the highlights of the deal are highlighted on the Microsoft PressPass site and if you read Italian there appears to be something here.

      - Mike
    • The Channel 9 Team
      We should have linked to the Microsoft Automotive Web site too. Thanks for the compliment! We have more cool stuff from Mike Hall coming over the next week.
    • Sathyaish Chakravarthy
      My memory fails me, and in that I have a terrible one. I am not sure which company that was, but I clearly remember reading it. It was a short story of less than 500 words.
    • azavareh

      Awesome video and even better content. Thank you guys but I had one question ... What is it with MSFT guys using the word "So ..." so many times?

    • mikehall
      "so", all Microsoft speakers seem to say that - I recently had some "PR" training where the 'guide' for the day pointed out that all Microsoft speakers say 'so' too much.

      - Mike
    • moofish
      uk here, hey that was a good video. I wish he wouldn't start his centences with "so" so often, what i saw was really encouraging - i would like to see that trickle down here. its a little scarry to think that ms want to expand this far, but if it works and works well then why not.

      tale-gate parties, i have never heard of them.

    • MattIsKING
      My 2003 Ford Escape is a little over a year old now. I've been wanting to put in a navigation system and have been researching my options.

      During my research I decided I really want much more than just a navigation system. I want navigation, music (the normal stuff INCLUDING MP3 support via CD's or external "media" like an iPod, memory stick, or external harddrive), backup camera, diagnostics, and more. Having done about 5 years with a company that wrote vehicle diagnostics applications for Windows (for heavy equipment and the trucking industry, not the automobile industry) I've been wanting to build my own CarPC for a while but have found the right fit hard to come by (not to mention the funds). I even worked for a while on a team developing a system called "Truck PC" based on the original "Auto PC" platform (Windows CE) that came out of the Microsoft/Clarion product.

      Now I just wish I could just get hold of the tools, hardware, and OS for myself. Waiting on the automobile market to agree to anything remotely standard will take forever. It will take forever for products that aren't OEM to come into the market and I don't want to have to buy a new car to get it! Is there a way to get kits/specs/etc to do personal development for this new platform?
    • moofish
      Jesus! i just went to and saw the three movies, yea okay i like the idea and if it works thats really good, honest. But how PC are those videos, its just not cool.

      Look how apple sold thier iPod's and how people got them because they were cool, well come on how many teens are going to love these ads, sure the technology will make up for it, but the adverts are so american.

      The business one would have been better if Tony Soprano did it, instead [when the water fall over him for the first time] of sympathising with him, he could have knocked him off and then asked the car for a good place to hide the body - yea that ould have been a good ad.

    • mikehall
      Isn't that why Channel9 videos are so cool? - just a digital camcorder (I'm using a Samsung SCD103), Movie Maker 2.0, and that's about it... I wonder how much planning and time went into producing the three videos on the Windows Automotive site.

      - Mike
    • scobleizer
      Yeah, a lot of people are surpised when I show up with a $450 camcorder and a $30 microphone. It's amazing what you can do now.
    • ZippyV
      But the sound in this video was terrible.
    • mikehall
      That was my fault, it turns out there was a problem with the wireless mic - in the second windows automotive video the sound is much better (I think the Scoble is posting that one today!).

      - Mike
    • eagle
      Mike, when will we see the SumoBot video? 
    • scobleizer
      That should be on Monday.
    • The Channel 9 Team
      Here's the second part of the video Mike Hill shot. This is so cool, thanks Mike and Peter!
    • malpern
      Peter, is there a way for developers who own cars with a Microsoft enabled computer system (eg. acura) to add their own applications, or is it a closed system?
    • paulmorriss

      I like how he thinks we don't have luxury cars in Europe. Well, I don't really, being a European!

    • lars
      I think he's aware about where Die S-Klasse comes from.

      It looks like a cool technology. But I wonder what went wrong with our society when you need stock quotes while driving, and the kids needs movies to sit down and behave. He kind of went around the subject of getting emails to your car. And that is good. You shouldn't be deleting viagra spam while driving.
      Another thing is privacy and security issues. Pairing GPS with online access I see a real potential for misuse. And I hope it will never be so tied into the "car bus" that you could plant a trojan in there to disable the breaks.
    • Xiaoth
      Sooooooooo.... So this is a cool video. So I enjoyed this demo. So Microsoft is doing a good thing with autos that other companies should be doing too, what's the matter with them? So it's good to see progress made in the dashboard. So I want an Auto PC. So I think there's still work to be done, but I think we've come a long way, no? So, well, that's what I think. So ... that is a REALLY BAD word to overuse, and I if I ever meet this man I will follow him around and say "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so" "so"
    • lars
      I didn't get annoyed by the "so"s in this video, but I know the feeling. Sometimes I go nuts when someone giving a lecture says "I'll go right ahead and ..." over and over again.

      Or when I watch keynotes and demonstrations by executives and some middle management project leader who does the real demo.
      It usually sounds something like this:

      Let's say the exec is called Bill for some reason.

      MMPL:    - "I'm going to go right ahead and deploy this ....."
      Bill:           -"So, it's xyzzy compatible?"
      MMPL:    - That's absolutely right Bill. Now if I click this button ..."
      Bill:           - "And with that you can rule the world?"
      MMPL:     - That's absolutely right Bill. So ... "

      Gah! How many times have the rehearsed that? 200?
    • mikehall

      "so", Yep, I know what you mean - when I'm giving keynote demos I try not to run through the tech part until we're live on stage, I don't like the demo's to be scripted, it's more interesting to make it up as you go along...

      - Mike

    • Cybermynd
      The voice response system is remarkable for the quality of the mail voice. The inflections and pleasant speech patterns and tonality were superb. Almost too superb. I've never heard any speech synthesis system this good, ever, anywhere.

      I thought it was pre-recorded but then the voice repeated the name of someone being phoned. This is normally where speech synthesis switches over to the robotic voice for the text to speech. In this case the name was repeated back in the same voice as the rest of the interface.

      I suspect a little 'demo hanky panky'. Am I wrong?

      Otherwise a wonderful demo. I suspect the actual level of speaker-independent recognition and quality of synthesis is still 5 years away.
    • Cybermynd
      Oh, Lord. I look like one of those internet nerds I hate so much.  Male voice!!! Sorry.
    • Peter W
      We wish more of the car manufacturers would open their systems up.  However, the auto industry currently closes all these boxes. 

      There will be a day when you can create your own application or load 3rd party applications on these devices, but it will probably occur in Japan first.

      Also, I'll try not to say "so" so much anymore:)
    • sflanker
      Excellent video, I would love to have some of that tech in my car. With respect to the Cellphone-GPS feature, does anybody know/is anybody allowed to divulge how this can be done? I know pretty much all modern cellphones are GPS enabled, but it was my understanding that most Cell carriers don't have it enabled for anything besides 911 calls. Can any GPS phone do stuff like this? Was that a MS phone in the vid? Do I have to develop/purchase a custom app for my cellphone to push GPS info to the Net (a webservice) and/or display it? Is there a way I can get at the GPS info for my phone remotely (i.e. Cellphone Lojack)? I use verizon, but I'd be interested if anybody knows of any carrier that provides any of this functionality.
      Thanks for any info, and thanks for posting this way cool vid.
      -Paul Wheeler
    • billh
      Oh great.  I can see it now.  "Sorry I backed into your parked car.  I had an invalid page fault."  If you plow into somebody's fence, would that be a "fence post error"?
    • stevelom
      Checkout the Microsoft MapPoint Location Server (MLS) -

      It's a new server product (launched at MDC in San Fran 3 months ago) that gives developers a simple SOAP API to get the real time location of mobile phones on any supported Wireless Network. MLS has a plugin architecture that allows us to build a plugin for any Wireless Operator who exposes a Location API of some sort. Currently we have Plugins for Sprint, Bell Mobility, TeliaSonara, and Teydo (a location Aggregator supporting 4 Mobile networks in Europe) with more to be announced soon.

      Click the link in my sig to see MLS in action and find my realtime-location. I'll be doing a demo/Video on Channel 9 so stay tuned here for more info.

      Also Check out Chandu's blog and MLS based locator:

      Steve Lombardi
      MapPoint Technical Evangelist

      Where is Steve? Find out at:

    • AustinMyers
      Mr. Wengert, I hope I have finally found the right person.  Man getting Microsoft to open up with information on who to talk to is worse then pulling teeth.  (Thank you Steve Ballmer for pointing me in the right direction.)  At any rate, it is good to have found you, even if it's in this very strange method of using the internet.  (Not a big fan of blogs.)

      If at all possible I would very much appreciate if you could drop me an email with a return address.

      Austin Myers
      Microsoft M.V.P.
    • scobleizer
      Austin, I'll write you off line and put you in touch with Peter.

      By the way, blogs are going to be increasingly how you'll get in touch with teams. Channel 9 is here for taking up the slack.

      Why? Blogs get into Google and MSN's main engines.
    • AustinMyers
      No, that may be how you do it, but not me.  I think blogs are one of the worst fads to ever hit the internet.  (Just my opinion of course.)  I do all I can to avoid geeting my hands dirty with them.  <g>
    • scobleizer

      I wonder why you feel that way?

      The blogs I'm reading are pretty darn good. shows the best of the 2200+ blogs I read every evening.

    • AustinMyers
      Oh I am not commenting on the content, just the delivery method.
    • scobleizer
      An RSS aggregator works magic. How many of those have you tried?
    • AustinMyers
      A grand total of Zero. <g>  And that's the way it will remain.  Honestly, and not to be mean, but I see this entire delivery method as little more than fodder for bandwidth hogs.  I see nothing that couldn't be done in a usenet group without all the overhead.  Again, that is strickly my opinion and your mileage will vary.

    • scobleizer
      Usenet doesn't show up in Google's main search engine. That's a huge difference. Usenet is cool, but I'm finding that the best content isn't being entered in NNTP anymore. But, glad to see someone doesn't agree. It's what makes the world go round.
    • AlfredTh
      Another interesting automotive project is Project 54 at the University of New Hampshire. They are using the Microsoft speech software and building systems on top of Windows XP (regular and Tablet editions) that allow police to control the equipment in their cars using voice commands. It's up and running in all of the State Polie cars and more and more local police cars around the state and the US. Robert if you ever get out to New England again we should see if you can bring your camera to UNH for a demo. 

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