W3C recommends VoiceXML 2.0

VoiceXML Version 2.0 has received a "recommendation" status from the W3C.

VoiceXML Version 2.0 has received a "recommendation" status from the W3C.
The W3C also gave the same seal of approval to the Speech Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS).

Both of these specifications become the only formal speech standards recognised by an independent standards body.

But the real significance of VXML 2.0, according to Brad Porter, co-editor of the standard and director of engineering at TellMe Networks, is that it allows enterprise-level companies to build on top of their web architecture.

"It is allowing large enterprises who have a huge investment in IT infrastructure using XML to the back end to use that same investment for adding voice recognition," Porter said.

Instead of doing proprietary integration with middleware, the enterprise can now use XML as a gateway to voice systems, Porter added.

The first version of VXML, 1.0, never went beyond a draft standard, said Bill Meisel, principal at TMA Associates, a speech technology research firm.

"Salt [Speech Application Language Tags] is a direct competitor but has not reached the level of maturity of VoiceXML in the standards process," Meisel added.

Nevertheless, Salt will be formally announced as a released product later this month. The development environment will support telephone applications but not what is called multimodal applications.

Multimodal applications are those that combine both voice recognition with other types of interfaces such as touchscreen or dropdown menus and is focused on the handheld and smartphone market.

"Microsoft is supporting Salt and there are deployments of Salt. It will be formally announced as a release product this month focusing on telephone applications," Meisel said.

Although VXML Version 2 was being used by a number of suppliers even before it received official recognition, the standard will also serve to let developers know that telephone applications are now supported by a web standard and that the technology is mature, said Meisel.

Meisel expects to see "a lot more developers" become interested in voice applications using both VoiceXML and Salt.

Both Version 2.0 and SRGS are the first components of the W3C's Speech Interface Framework aimed at the two billion fixed line and mobile devices.

The Framework aims to give consumers and business users access to web-based services over a telephone, said W3C officials.

Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld 


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