World Wide Web Consortium Issues VoiceXML 2.0 as a W3C Candidate Recommendation
Cornerstone to the W3C Speech Interface Framework is Ready for Implementors
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/
Testimonials for VoiceXML 2.0
BeVocal views VoiceXML 2.0 as the standard that provides a complete solution for developing sophisticated voice applications. The W3C Candidate Release of VoiceXML 2.0 is a significant milestone which is the culmination of actual implementations from W3C member companies and public input. VoiceXML 2.0 is ready for prime-time and widespread adoption. Our developers on BeVocal Café and our hosted customers have seen the benefits of the rapid web-based development and deployment of their voice applications. The simultaneous release of the W3C test suite gives consumers the confidence that VoiceXML 2.0 solutions will have compatibility into the future.-- Ralf I. Pfeiffer, Manager, VoiceXML Technology Group, BeVocal, Inc.
Comverse is pleased that the VoiceXML 2.0 specification has been approved for Candidate Recommendation by the W3C's Voice Browser Working Group. As carriers move to next generation networks and deploy enhanced services on open platforms, we believe a standards-based infrastructure becomes even more important. VoiceXML 2.0 has the potential to offer carriers a high degree of flexibility in creating and packaging services quickly for select target markets. As an active participant in the Voice Browser Working Group and other working groups in the W3C, Comverse is committed to furthering standards development and to enhancing the end-user experience by offering an open environment for total communication and infotainment services that will help carriers generate revenues and extend user loyalty.-- Christopher Cyr, General Manager, Comverse Voice Solutions
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Alcatel
Genesys is delighted that the VoiceXML 2.0 specification has attained Candidate Recommendation status. This milestone provides a solid foundation for the widespread adoption of the standard and meets the needs of customers and developers, enabling the creation of value-added voice services both for enterprises and service providers. As a leader in open standards based next-generation voice processing platforms, Genesys is pleased to support the standard and its evolution and fuel the adoption by developers, customers and service providers.-- Mukesh Sundaram, VP of Engineering, Voice Portals, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories (A subsidiary of Alcatel)
VoiceXML 2.0 provides an open standard for writing speech gateways and applications in a truly ubiquitous manner. It also promotes speech as the viable access mechanism for web-based content. HeyAnita’s FreeSpeech Platform Version 4.0 allows companies to develop voice applications in the programming language of their choice while taking advantage of the VoiceXML 2.0 standard to achieve interoperability with leading gateway servers.-- Sanjeev Kuwadekar, CEO, HeyAnita
As computing extends its reach from PCs and laptops to a growing number of devices - from PDAs to smartphones to automobiles - voice and multimodal interaction will become increasingly important methods of accessing applications and services. VoiceXML, as the underlying speech standard, has been crucial in propelling the speech industry forward and promises to be an important part of the multimodal world. As an author of the initial VoiceXML specification, IBM is pleased to see the W3C's Voice Browser Working Group release the VoiceXML 2.0 candidate recommendation specification. IBM is strongly committed to the standard and looks forward to the continuing success of VoiceXML and its enhancements.-- Dennis King, Director of Architecture, Pervasive Computing Division, IBM
Loquendo is very pleased to have participated in the collaborative effort for producing VoiceXML 2.0 Candidate Recommendation specification. As a leading player in speech technologies and voice platforms, Loquendo believes that VoiceXML 2.0 has been an essential step forward to promote the speech application market. Indeed, it will boost the speech market, by enabling service providers, content creators, operators and voice portals to deliver a much richer user experience.-- Daniele Sereno, Vice President Voice Platforms, Loquendo
MTA SZTAKI, the Computer and Automation Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is very pleased to participate in the launch and use of VoiceXML. As the host of W3C Hungarian Office, SMEs, radio stations are going to be contacted in the Central and Eastern European region to disseminate about this new and standardized way for providing exciting interactive services based on telephony. MTA SZTAKI is one of the developer partners of the PublicVoiceXML project of the EU providing a free open source implementation of a VoiceXML compliant Voice Browser. We are entitled to implement several examples of voice- based applications, and to help the PublicVoiceXML developers' community. We believe that VoiceXML is the best candidate to become the 'HTML' for telephony, and provides a great momentum for the integration of telephony and World Wide Web technologies .-- Dr. Laszlo Kovacs, Head of Department of Distributed Systems, MTA SZTAKI
NMS Communications has been an active participant in the W3C Voice Browser Working Group, continuing our tradition of open, robust, standards-based communications platforms. In particular, VoiceXML is a key part of NMS HearSay, our mobile voice and data services system that allows quick deployment of any number of simultaneous voice and data applications on any operator network. And now, with VoiceXML 2.0, NMS HearSay is even more application and speech agnostic, reducing development time and enabling service providers to get applications up and running much faster.-- Brian Demers, Vice President and General Manager of Network Solutions, NMS Communications
As a long-term advocate of VoiceXML, Nuance is pleased to see VoiceXML 2.0 reach the milestone of Candidate Recommendation with the W3C. The market has clearly indicated its interest in open standards for speech applications, and the advancement of VoiceXML 2.0 will encourage accelerated adoption of speech technologies worldwide.-- Lynda Kate Smith, Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Nuance
PipeBeach is extremely pleased with the Candidate Recommendation of VoiceXML 2.0 and congratulates W3C on this important landmark in the Speech and Web industries. Through our CTO, Dr. Scott McGlashan, PipeBeach leads the world-class W3C team producing the VoiceXML standard. We have seen that this standard is a powerful business enabler for the rapid and cost-efficient development of interactive speech services, especially innovative services for the mobile user. PipeBeach's speechWeb platform provides full VoiceXML support for carrier, enterprise and ASP environements, and we are proud to have been the world's first to release a carrier-grade VoiceXML 2.0 platform with support for a number of European languages.-- Christer Granberg, Chief Executive Officer, PipeBeach
The European Commission's Directorate for the Information Society (DG INFSO) has selected seven strategic open source projects to provide reference implementations in strategically important technology areas. One of them is PublicVoiceXML (www.PublicVoiceXML.org), which aims at providing an open source implementation of W3C's VoiceXML 2.0 and providing use cases for small radio stations. We hope that our efforts help to disseminate best practices for VoiceXML applications and boost its usage at SMEs. Our challenge with PublicVoiceXML is to build business relations based on support and special license contracts, when publishing a reference implementation open source, in order to support the standardisation activities now and in future.-- Dr. Roland Alton-Scheidl, PUBLIC VOICE Lab Founder and President
ScanSoft is pleased to have been an active participant in the W3C Voice Browser Working Group, and in the development and proliferation of VoiceXML 2.0 and SSML. It is clear that these developing standards are integral to the development of advanced technologies that change the way we communicate, from interactive voice response solutions to in-vehicle automotive applications. Businesses and consumers alike will benefit from the VoiceXML-based speech-enabled applications that will enhance productivity and enable people with disabilities such as RSI or visual impairments to conduct business and personal applications hands-free. We applaud the work of W3C and other similar organizations for the tremendous effort they put forth into evangelizing speech technology standards and technologies, and we look forward to our combined efforts as we look towards the future of the speech industry.-- Robert Weideman, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, ScanSoft
To successfully deliver new communication services, infrastructures and architectures, it is crucial to develop a compelling vision and roadmap to guide their evolution. W3C’s standards meet this need, providing the blue print and tools necessary for the development, deployment and management of the new applications, architectures and infrastructures, which will drive communications forward. Since our inception, SnowShore Networks has been actively engaged in standards activities with the W3C and standards are a key pillar of the company. VoiceXML 2.0 is a critical building block for a new wave of innovative enhanced multimedia services and serves a fundamental technology for new applications that can be delivered from the core of a network to the outermost end point device. VoiceXML 2.0 is yet another important standard that takes the SIP-XML approach for rapid service delivery. The 2.0 revision of VoiceXML enhances infrastructure interoperability and service portability in the network. It opens the industry to a wider array of new development tools, new services and ultimately new deployment opportunities. From carrier-class media servers to new personal end-point devices, VoiceXML 2.0 enables the rapid delivery of new voice-driven services from end-to-end in the network.-- Eric Burger, Chief Technology Officer, SnowShore Networks
SpeechWorks congratulates the W3C Voice Browser Working Group on reaching the Candidate Recommendation milestone for VoiceXML 2.0. As an editor of the VoiceXML 2.0 specification, SpeechWorks is strongly committed to VoiceXML and related standards that bring the many benefits of open systems to high-quality speech-enabled telephony applications. Through our OpenSpeech (tm) product line, uniquely optimized to support VoiceXML 2.0, we enable our partners to deliver industry-leading platforms, solutions, and services that are revolutionizing the business of speech.-- Steve Chambers, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Chief Marketing Officer, SpeechWorks International
VoiceXML 2.0, now in Candidate Recommendation, is currently in use by thousands of voice applications, automating millions of phone calls every week. The Implementation Report test suite demonstrates VoiceXML's maturity and its significance within the voice industry. The W3C standards work has made VoiceXML the most widely supported and implemented voice standard in the world. The continued need for standards-based voice technology in the enterprise will keep VoiceXML momentum high. Tellme is proud to be part of the W3C-led effort to ensure the standard can be implemented in real world scenarios. It is also a great privilege to meet the goals of our Fortune 500 clients by making VoiceXML technology a centerpiece of customer service operations.-- Brad Porter, Platform Architect, Tellme Networks, Inc.
Unisys offers a carrier-grade platform that is installed in over 100 of the largest telecommunications companies across the globe. The Voice Services Platform includes a VoiceXML 2.0 interpreter as well as a variety of speech recognition and TTS engines covering over 25 languages. Unisys believes VoiceXML is an important standard in that it will enable an explosion of speech and ultimately multimodal solutions.-- Bill Scholz, Architect Director, Voice Business Mobilization Solutions, Unisys Corporation
Today's release of the VoiceXML 2.0 candidate recommendation specification by the W3C's Voice Browser Working Group is the culmination of hard work by the world's leading service providers and enterprises who deliver open-standards telephony-based applications every day. The VoiceXML Forum and its 350+ member companies around the world have fully supported the standardization and adoption of VoiceXML, since it first emerged more than 3 years ago. Today, millions of calls each day are answered by open-standards telephony platforms, and tens of thousands of developers around the world are building VoiceXML applications. We look forward to fostering the continued adoption of VoiceXML as the easiest and most powerful way to create and manage telephony services.-- Eric Jackson, Chair, VoiceXML Forum Marketing & Communications Committee
The VoiceXML language and paradigm revolutionize development and deployment of traditional and next generation IVR applications. The W3C members have worked hard to evolve the specification into a complete and solid open standard. Voxpilot was one of the early adopters of VoiceXML and has leveraged the many benefits that W3C standardization has enabled, leading to the wide range of VoiceXML tools and applications currently supported on its platform.-- David Burke, Chief Technical Architect, Voxpilot Ltd