World Wide Web Consortium Issues First Public Working Draft of VoiceXML 2.0

W3C and VoiceXML Forum Work Together to Produce Voice Markup for the Web

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http://www.w3.org/ --23 October 2001 -- Leading the Web to its full potential, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today released the first public Working Draft of VoiceXML 2.0, an XML-based language for voice dialogs. A first public Working Draft gives the Web community an invitation and opportunity to see the early work of a W3C Working Group, and to contribute through comments and implementations. VoiceXML 2.0 was published after W3C and the VoiceXML Forum announced plans for cooperation through a jointly signed Memorandum of Understanding.

W3C's Voice Browser Working Group Weaves Telephony into the Web

W3C is working to expand access to the Web to allow people to interact via key pads, spoken commands, listening to prerecorded speech, synthetic speech and music. This will allow any telephone to be used to access appropriately designed Web-based services.

"Voice-enabled Web access 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," explained Dave Raggett, W3C Voice Browser Activity Lead and W3C Fellow from Openwave Systems, Inc. "VoiceXML 2.0 is an excellent fit to telephony and will enable all kinds of new applications."

To fulfill this goal, W3C's Voice Browser Working Group, active since March 1999, has been developing the W3C Speech Interface Framework, a system which includes languages and functionalities for speech synthesis, speech grammars, semantic interpretations of results, call controls, pronunciation lexicons, natural language representation, and a markup language for voice dialogs.

VoiceXML 2.0 Provides Markup Language for Voice Applications

VoiceXML 2.0 is the voice dialog language under development at W3C. It is designed to creating 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. Its major goal is to bring the advantages of Web-based development and content delivery to interactive voice response applications.

W3C and VoiceXML Forum Cooperation Key to VoiceXML 2.0 Development

Earlier work on VoiceXML was completed within the VoiceXML Forum. A desire to bring the work of both the VoiceXML Forum and the W3C Voice Browser Working Group together led both organizations to jointly produce and sign a Memorandum of Understanding. Both organizations have agreed that W3C is to serve as the organization for VoiceXML technical development, and that the VoiceXML Forum shall continue to serve as an advocate for the adoption of VoiceXML Technologies.

"The synergy between the VoiceXML Forum and the W3C has enabled the rapid development and implementation of VoiceXML," said Bill Dykas, Chairman of the VoiceXML Forum's Board of Directors. "The release of VoiceXML 2.0 is the latest example of what the combined efforts of the two groups can achieve. The Forum looks forward to accomplishing even more with the W3C in the future."

VoiceXML 2.0, Speech Interface Framework to Evolve

The W3C Voice Browser Working Group is among the largest in the Consortium. Its members include AT&T, Avaya Communications, BeVocal, Inc., Brience, BT, Canon, Cisco, Comverse, Dynamicsoft, Inc., Dialogic, Electricité de France, France Telecom, General Magic, HP, HeyAnita, Hitachi, IBM, Informio, InfoSpace, Intel, Kirusa Inc., Lernout & Hauspie, Inc., Loquendo, Lucent, Microsoft, Mitre, Mitsubishi, Motorola, NMS Communications, Nokia, Nortel Networks, Nuance, Omnitel, Openwave, Oracle, Orange, Philips, PipeBeach, SAP, Snowshore Networks, Sonexis, SpeechWorks, Sun, Syntellect, Telera Systems, Tellme Networks, Unisys, Verascape, VoiceGenie, and Voxeo. Support for the continued work is strong, as evidenced by the range of testimonials.

All W3C Voice Browser Working Group members have made patent disclosures in advance of the first public Working Draft. While the licensing issues have yet to be resolved, the VoiceXML 2.0 specification has been made available in order to allow members of the Web community the opportunity to provide comments on both technical and licensing issues associated with this Working Draft. The W3C Voice Browser Working Group continues to develop the full complement of Speech Interface Framework specifications and offers the latest versions from the Voice Browser homepage.

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 National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) 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, over 510 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/