Multimodal Access

What is Multimodal Access?

Multimodal technology is a promising candidate of future human machine interfaces which can improve Web accessibility within various conditions and environments of the users. For example, these days we can access the Web using various devices including mobile phones, PDA, car navigation system and home appliances. However, the concrete access methods strongly depend on the type of devices and services, and are quite different from each other. Some of those applications are based on W3C standards. However, many are based on proprietary platforms and technologies. So a global and universal standardized mechanism which applies to various kinds of devices and services is required to materialize "One Web" which lets any person to access a specific information using any modalities on any devices from anywhere at any time.

Capabilities of Multimodal Access

The capabilities of multimodal applications include voice and GUI interaction. Standards for multimodal interfaces should be scalable to enable richer capabilities for subsequent generations of multimodal devices. To encourage rapid adoption, the same content can be designed for use on both old/simple and new/multimodal devices. For example, people with new multimodal devices will get to experience their multimodal capabilities, while users with old simple devices will get to use the keypad and/or stylus in the same way as now. Users of multimodal devices will be able to provide input via speech, handwriting or keystrokes with output presented via displays, pre-recorded and synthetic speech/audio and tactile mechanisms like vibrators and Braille strips. Application developers will be able to provide an effective user interface for whichever modes the user selects.


As a result of increasingly capable networks, devices, and speech recognition technology, the number of existing multimodal applications, especially mobile applications, is rapidly accelerating:

  • Multimodal Voice Search integrating GUI and speech
  • Voice control on mobile devices
  • Address input on GPS systems
  • Multimodal in-car systems for accessing navigation and audio/visual control

Note that almost all of those multimodal applications have appeared in the last two years. Many of them are based on proprietary platforms and technologies, so standardization of multimodal interfaces is needed for global interoperability.

Learn More

The mission of the Multimodal Interaction Activity is to develop open standards that enable the following vision:

  • Extending the Web to allow multiple modes of interaction: GUI, Speech, Vision, Pen, Gestures, Haptic interfaces, ...
  • Anyone, Anywhere, Any device, Any time: Accessible through the user's preferred modes of interaction with services that adapt to the device, user and environmental conditions

Visit the Multimodal Interaction Activity home page.

Use It

  • Business Case
  • Software