College kids have it pretty good, but now IBM wants to make their lives even easier. The computer giant has partnered with two universities, Wake Forest and University of California, Santa Barbara, to develop speech-enabled Web applications for mobile phones. At Wake, LaundryView will let students check the availability of washing machines in their dorm just by asking their phone, saving them the horrifying injustice of a wasted trip to the laundry room. At UCSB, Park and Pay-by-Cellphone will allow students to pay for parking using their mobile. They can purchase additional parking time remotely. Both universities are also implementing GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) in their buses so students can ask their phone, "What time is the next bus coming?" and get an answer transmitted to them from university servers. If the program is successful, IBM hopes to expand the product into the professional sphere. For the time being, it might just lighten the load a bit for the college crowd.
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