The Smart Companion: an intuitive human-like user-interface solution for easy access to your digital world


September 6, 2005

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September 7, 2005 Philips Home Dialogue Systems has announced that it will start licensing its Smart Companion technology to partners in consumer electronics and the PC or network equipment industry. Using Philips’ technology and support, these manufacturers can create their own Smart Companion consumer product and shorten time-to-market. The Smart Companion is a completely new type of consumer product that will act as a companion in the home. This robot device will communicate with users in a natural human-like way, serving as an easy and intuitive intermediary to the technology surrounding us. It will assist people in their daily routine tasks such as sending messages, accessing up-to-date information, selecting their favorite music or movies, or even controlling their home appliances.

“The Smart Companion bridges the gap between you and the technology in your home,” says Harry Angenent, marketing and business development manager for Philips Home Dialogue Systems. “Its combination of intuitive interaction, functional capabilities and emotional strength makes the Smart Companion unique and well positioned for use in various markets including home entertainment, education, home automation, messaging and even in the care of people such as the elderly.”

By its use of such advanced technologies as speech recognition, computer vision and robotics, the Smart Companion is optimised for interaction with humans and demonstrates a true personality. It interacts with the user in a natural way by understanding spoken requests, giving replies, using body language and recognizing faces by camera. By turning its head the Smart Companion can follow the user moving around in the room. The emotional bonding which develops with the user and the intuitive use, means that interacting with the Smart Companion—and thereby the use of technology in the home—becomes pleasurable and fun.

The software core integrates the Smart Companion’s sensory components, such as speech recognition and synthesis, computer vision, and robotic and light control, into a single platform. The Smart Companion itself is the interaction point with the user. It contains microphones, a loudspeaker, a camera, robotics and other components in an anthropomorphic shell that fosters emotional bonding between the user and the Smart Companion. Ultimately, applications define the interaction dialogue and the actions that the Smart Companion is to carry out at the user’s request. The licensee must add these independently to the Smart Companion system. Such applications can be created with aid of the application-software development kit.

Philips Home Dialogue Systems licenses the software core and offers full design-in support to its customers from September 2005 onwards including a fully functional reference design of a Smart Companion, an application software development kit , and offers services to integrate the software on customer-specific hardware.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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