W3C

World Wide Web Consortium Issues VoiceXML 2.0 as a W3C Candidate Recommendation

Cornerstone to the W3C Speech Interface Framework is Ready for Implementors

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http://www.w3.org/ -- 28 January 2003 -- Giving voice to the Web, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published VoiceXML 2.0 as a W3C Candidate Recommendation. Advancement of a W3C Technical Report to Candidate Recommendation is an explicit, public call for implementation. The goal of VoiceXML 2.0 is to bring the advantages of Web-based development and content delivery to interactive voice response applications.

Giving Voice to the Web: W3C's Speech Interface Framework

Since 1999, W3C has been working on its Speech Interface Framework to expand access to the Web to allow people to interact via key pads, spoken commands, listening to prerecorded speech, synthetic speech and music. With the number of telephone lines and mobile phones exceeding one billion units worldwide, the specifications of W3C's Speech Interface Framework will allow an unprecedented number of people to use any telephone to access appropriately designed Web-based services.

VoiceXML 2.0 Delivers Voice and Interactivity to the Speech Interface Framework

VoiceXML 2.0 allows developers to create audio dialogs that feature synthesized speech, digitized audio, recognition of spoken and DTMF (touch-tone) key input, recording of spoken input, telephony, and mixed-initiative conversations.

"VoiceXML 2.0 has the power to change the way phone-based information and customer services are developed. No longer will we have to press 'one' for this or 'two' for that. Instead, we will be able to make selections and provide information by speech," explained Dave Raggett, W3C Voice Browser Activity Lead. "In addition, VoiceXML 2.0 creates opportunities for people with visual impairments or those needing Web access while keeping their hands and eyes free for other things, such as getting directions while driving."

In the W3C Speech Interface Framework, VoiceXML controls how the application interacts with the user, while the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) is used for spoken prompts and the Speech Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS) for guiding the speech recognizers via grammars that describe the expected user responses. Other specifications in the Framework include Voice Browser Call Control (CCXML), which provides telephony call control support for VoiceXML or other dialog systems, and Semantic Interpretation for Speech Recognition, which defines the syntax and semantics of the contents of tags in SRGS.

Adoption Rate of VoiceXML 2.0 to Increase with Availability of Test Suites

There is also an extensive set of test suites publically available with the VoiceXML 2.0 Candidate Recommendation. While the initial version contains over 300 tests, the final version is expected to have more than 500 tests. Updates to the test suite will be announced on the Voice Browser's public mailing list.

This complements the test suite provided with the Speech Recognition Grammar Specification, which became a W3C Candidate Recommendation in June 2002. Test suites for the remaining specifications in the W3C Speech Interface Framework, including the Speech Synthesis Markup Language, which enters its Last Call phase today, are under development by the W3C Voice Browser Working Group and will be published over the next few months.

VoiceXML 2.0, Speech Interface Framework to Evolve, Resolve Patent Issues

The W3C Voice Browser Working Group is among the largest and most active in W3C. Its participants include BeVocal Inc., Canon, Comverse, France Telecom, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, HP, HeyAnita, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Loquendo, Microsoft, MITRE, Mitsubishi, Motorola, Nokia, Nortel Networks, Nuance, Philips, PipeBeach, SAP, ScanSoft, SnowShore Networks, SpeechWorks, Sun, Syntellect, Tellme Networks, Unisys, Verascape, VoiceGenie, Voxeo, and Voxpilot. Support for the continued work and commitments to product implementations are strong, as evidenced by the range of testimonials.

As the Working Group moves forward in its technical work across the range of voice-related specifications, patent issues arising from inconsistencies with the Voice Browser Working Group's Royalty-Free Licensing Mode are to be addressed by a Patent Advisory Group within the W3C, per the W3C's Current Patent Practice. With the vast majority of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group committed to the production of an open specification, the Voice Browser Patent Advisory Group will work towards resolving the remaining issues.

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, nearly 450 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/