Audio Incubator Group Charter

The HTML5 specification introduces the <audio> and <video> media elements, and with them the opportunity to dramatically change the way we integrate media on the web. The current HTML5 media API provides ways to play and get limited information about audio and video, but gives no way to programatically access or create such media.

The mission of the Audio Incubator Group, part of the Incubator Activity, is to explore the possibility of starting one or more Recommendation-track specifications dealing with various aspects of advanced audio functionality in Web browsers, including methods for reading and writing raw audio data, and synthesizing sound.

The Audio Incubator Group will engage the various constituents of such specifications, including musicians, audio engineers, accessibility experts, user-interface designers, implementers, and hardware manufacturers, to collect use cases and requirements on what can and should be done for various specifications at different levels of priority, and deliver one or more reports including recommendations for specification work items.

Join the Audio Incubator Group.

End date 31 May 2011
Confidentiality Proceedings are public
Initial Chairs Alistair MacDonald
Initiating Members
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Every two weeks
Face-to-face: Once or twice annually


Many Web browsers include the ability to play back prerecorded audio files, but do not commonly include the ability for client-side alteration or synthesis of the audio, or programatic access to the raw audio data (such as tempo or pitch). Raw audio data can be used to synchronize, visualize, or enhance sound information for purposes of accessibility, analysis, or entertainment. Sound synthesis can be used to enhance user interfaces, synthesize speech, or produce music. Adding advanced audio capabilities to user agents has the possibility to add new realms of functionality available to Web developers and designers. This is an area which has not yet been explored thoroughly on the Web platform, but which has great potential due to the existing technology available on desktop platforms.

The scope of this incubator group includes:

Success Criteria

This incubator group will be considered successful if it delivers one or more reports that lead to specifications which meet the needs of the different constituencies considered. For example, if audio content creators and implementers agree on a set of audio APIs, especially those which can benefit from native hardware functionality, and which are subsequently specified and implemented, this incubator will be considered successful.

Out of Scope

The production of Recommendation-track specifications are out of scope for this incubator group, though it may produce early drafts of specifications and prototypes that lead to Recommendation-track specifications.


This incubator group will produce one or more reports, each of which provides use cases and requirements for a specification describing particular audio functionality, such as reading and writing raw audio data, or synthesizing sound.

This incubator group may also produce early drafts of specifications, which may be evaluated as potential Recommendation-track deliverables by a chartered Working Group.

Dependencies and Liaisons

W3C Groups

HTML Working Group
Ensure that the audio APIs are compatible with the relevant HTML elements
Protocols and Formats Working Group
Ensure that use cases and requirements include and meet accessibility needs
Voice Browser Working Group
Coordinate on issues involving voice control and speech synthesis
Device APIs and Policy Working Group
Supply use cases, requirements, and review of specifications related to audio, including microphone access and speaker output

External Groups

To be determined.


Developers, designers, musicians, industry professionals, accessibility experts, and user-agent implementers are encouraged to participate in this Incubator Group. Participants must be willing to actively develop and donate materials towards the group deliverables, as well as attend the majority of the group's teleconferences and face-to-face meetings.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-xg-audio@w3.org (archive). The group's Member-only list is member-xg-audio@w3.org (archive).

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) will be available from the Audio Incubator Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Incubator Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Incubator Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Incubator Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Incubator Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

Incubator Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Audio Incubator Group has been created according to the Incubator Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Doug Schepers, W3C

$Date: 2010/05/14 14:21:38 $