Voice control coming to XM radio

The technology will let drivers issue voice commands to search through 160 channels of music, talk radio and other stations.

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XM Satellite Radio and VoiceBox Technologies announced a multiyear alliance Thursday to bring voice control to the satellite broadcast service.

The partnership will let drivers issue voice commands to search through XM Satellite Radio's 160 channels of music, talk radio and other stations and to find personalized information such as stock prices, traffic and weather. The technology is planned to be available to automakers and to those producing aftermarket products in mid-2006, the companies said.

The companies will demonstrate the technology at the Consumer Electronics show next week.

XM competes with conventional broadcast radio and with another satellite-based subscription service, Sirius Satellite Radio.

This week, Sirius announced it has accumulated 3 million subscribers. XM has more than 5 million subscribers.

Jupiter Research estimates 55 million satellite radios will be sold in 2010.

XM announced that it had chosen VoiceBox's technology because it worked accurately in noisy environments. The technology is designed to let users control electronics with free-form conversational language, the companies said.

On Wednesday, XM announced it will use technology from Neural Audio to broadcast some digital radio signals using 5.1 surround sound, which employs five speakers and a low-frequency subwoofer instead of the conventional two speakers.

Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha will introduce home audio systems that support the feature, which XM calls XM HD Surround. XM will demonstrate the technology at the electronics show.