Requirements for EMMA

W3C Note 13 January 2003

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Stéphane H. Maes, Oracle Corporation <stephane.maes@oracle.com>
Stephen Potter, Microsoft <spotter@microsoft.com>


This document describes requirements for the Extensible MultiModal Annotation language (EMMA) specification under development in the W3C Multimodal Interaction Activity. EMMA is intended as a data format for the interface between input processors and interaction management systems. It will define the means for recognizers to annotate application specific data with information such as confidence scores, time stamps, input mode (e.g. key strokes, speech or pen), alternative recognition hypotheses, and partial recognition results, etc. EMMA is a target data format for the semantic interpretation specification being developed in the Voice Browser Activity, and which describes annotations to speech grammars for extracting application specific data as a result of speech recognition. EMMA supercedes earlier work on the natural language semantics markup language in the Voice Browser Activity.

Status of this Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. The latest status of this document series is maintained at the W3C.

W3C's Multimodal Interaction Activity is developing specifications for extending the Web to support multiple modes of interaction. This document provides the basis for guiding and evaluating subsequent work on a specification for a data format (EMMA) that acts as an exchange mechanism between input processors and interaction management components in a multimodal application. These components are introduced in the W3C Multimodal Interaction Framework.

This document is a NOTE made available by the W3C for archival purposes, and is not expected to undergo frequent changes. Publication of this Note by W3C indicates no endorsement by W3C or the W3C Team, or any W3C Members. A list of current W3C technical reports and publications, including Recommendations, Working Drafts, and Notes can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document has been produced as part of the W3C Multimodal Interaction Activity, following the procedures set out for the W3C Process. The authors of this document are members of the Multimodal Interaction Working Group (W3C Members only). This is a Royalty Free Working Group, as described in W3C's Current Patent Practice NOTE. Working Group participants are required to provide patent disclosures.

Please send comments about this document to the public mailing list: www-multimodal@w3.org (public archives). To subscribe, send an email to <www-multimodal-request@w3.org> with the word subscribe in the subject line (include the word unsubscribe if you want to unsubscribe).

Table of Contents

1. Scope of EMMA
2. Data model requirements
3. Annotation requirements
4. Integration with other work


Extensible MultiModal Annotation language (EMMA) is the markup language used to represent human input to a multimodal application. As such, it may be seen in terms of the W3C Multimodal Interaction Framework as the exchange mechanism between user input devices and the interaction management capabilities of an application.

General Principles

An EMMA document can be considered to hold three types of data:

Given the assumptions above about the nature of data represented in an EMMA document, the following general principles apply to the design of EMMA:

The following sections apply these principles in terms of the scope of EMMA, the requirements on the contents and syntax of data model and annotations, and EMMA integration with other work.

1. Scope and General Requirements


2. Data model requirements

3. Annotation requirements


4. Integration with other work

4.1       Where such alignment is appropriate, EMMA must enable the use and integration of widely adopted standard specifications and features. The following activities are considered most relevant in this respect:

  1. W3C activities
  2. Other organizations and standards