Hands-free car phone kit talks back

The "Car Kit Professional Voice II" should be available for retail purchase in Europe later this quarter, priced at about 350 euros ($585), said spokesman Michael Leyer of Siemens Information and Communication Mobile.

Once a user has heard who the caller is, he can decide to accept the call without using his hands.

"Across Europe, more and more laws are in place that prohibit the use of a mobile handset while driving," he said. "With this product you can ensure that when on a call while driving, you don't have to touch anything. That's been the idea behind it, to do as much as possible by just giving commands with your voice."

The kit also features improved voice recognition technology, Leyer said, which allows users to perform various functions, including placing calls and answering incoming calls, entirely by voice. It will be available in English, French, and German language versions.

Users of Siemens' S45 GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) phones can activate the hands-free feature by simply placing the phone in a car-installed cradle. The same cradle serves as a battery charger and as a cable interface to a laptop computer to allow data or fax transmission via mobile phone. The kit will also be compatible with future Siemens phones.

The product is not available at present in the US, where different wireless standards predominate, but the future release of a similar device across the Atlantic is "under discussion," said Leyer.

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