Conversational interfaces provide a natural way for people to interact
with computers and other devices—and for these devices to interact with
people. So, while most voice recognition systems substitute sounds for
menu commands, the Phone Automation Manager (PAM) conversational interface
system enables extended conversations between people and equipment. This
lets users zero in on problems and solutions with dialogs that can be
easily tailored to the needs of a specific installation. If needed, PAM
actually asks for more information to clarify instructions, and confirms
instructions before taking action. PAM can also lead users through possible
problem descriptions and resolutions.
The proprietary conversational interface technology behind PAM goes well
beyond voice recognition to enable extended dialogues when things are
unclear or require multiple exchanges of information. For example, if a
maintenance supervisor says "Reset the turret punch temperature alarm,"
and there are several turret punches, the conversational interface might
ask which punch the supervisor means—unless only one has a matching alarm.
PAM language technology
Unlike competing systems, PAM dialogs are generated automatically at
run-time when ambiguity arises. There is no need to create complex
dialogue trees or design specialized interactions during installation.
The engine manages dialogue creation dynamically in response to changing
You can augment PAM with libraries for a number of application
areas. The device control language library is ideal for interfacing to
machines made up of many subsystems. It has been applied to automobile
interiors, NASA life-support systems, and factory cranes. It is also ideal
for monitoring HVAC, lighting, and sprinkler systems in large buildings.
The messaging language library works well for dealing with collections of
messages that need to be read and managed in various ways. It has been used
to talk to email systems, network computer monitors, and factory automation
The factory alarm language library combines key aspects of both the device
control and messaging libraries with a specialized customization language
to create a simple, flexible interface to factory automation systems.
These specialized language libraries make PAM easy to install and customize.
There are ready-to-use interfaces for a large variety of machine tools,
factory automation systems, and order and warehouse information systems.
A typical PAM installation using the
factory alarm language pack is shown below:
PAM is a separate system that sits between the user on the telephone—and
the machine tools and databases that hold factory information. The factory
alarm language library provides a conversational interface directly to
machine controllers and also to ODBC
databases holding information about alarms and other factory systems. The
databases can be on the same machine as PAM or elsewhere on the network.
PAM uses machine I/O and
factory-defined stored procedures to make queries and take actions, and is
thus able to integrate flexibly into a wide variety of systems.
When the user calls, PAM transparently queries the machines and databases
for relevant information. This may include reading alarms, relaying
production statistics, or resetting and controlling machines.
PAM ships with the alarm language library, which provides pre-built plans
for querying and resetting factory automation alarms. This not only allows
you to install and use PAM right out of the box, but enables you to add
custom factory automation queries and commands as needed. I/NET also provides
professional services for installation and customization.
Because outside PAM connections are made by phone, there's no danger
of compromising your network security by opening up access to critical
data using the public Internet. Without the Internet connection other
management systems require, PAM cuts out any route hackers can use to
break into your company systems.
In addition, you can configure the level
of access various employees have to your PAM system. This enables you to
allow exactly the amount of access and employee needs to do his job. For
instance, you might allow an equipment operator to check alarms, but not
to reset them. The maintenance foreman, however, could have a full range
of options from alarm resets to automated fixes.
For more information
For more information on PAM technology, download the PAM datasheet. Or read
more about the I/NET Windows software development kit (SDK).