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News Release: World Wide Web Consortium Issues VoiceXML 2.0 and Speech Recognition Grammar as W3C Recommendations

From: Janet Daly <janet@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 07:00:16 -0800
Message-ID: <40571680.6000601@w3.org>
To: w3c-news <w3c-news@w3.org>

Today, W3C announces completion of two critical pieces of the Speech 
Interface Framework: VoiceXML 2.0 and the Speech Recognition Grammar 
Specification. The standardization of these technologies give a strong 
foundation to bringing more connections between Voice-based systems and 
the Web.

For more information, including contacts for spokespeople from the 16 
testimonial providers, please contact Janet Daly <janet@w3.org> at +1 
617 253 5884.


World Wide Web Consortium Issues VoiceXML 2.0 and Speech Recognition
Grammar as W3C Recommendations

Critical components of the W3C Speech Interface Framework now complete

Web Resources:

This Press Release
   in English: http://www.w3.org/2004/03/voicexml2-pressrelease.html.en
   in French: http://www.w3.org/2004/03/voicexml2-pressrelease.html.fr
   in Japanese: http://www.w3.org/2004/03/voicexml2-pressrelease.html.ja

Testimonials from Aspect Communications, Comverse, Genesys, HP, IBM,
Loquendo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nuance, Openstream, ScanSoft, TellMe,
Vocalocity, VoiceGenie, Voxeo, and Voxpilot:

SRGS Recommendation: http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/REC-speech-grammar-20040316/

VoiceXML 2.0 Recommendation: 

http://www.w3.org/ -- 16 March 2004 -- Giving voice to the Web, the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published VoiceXML 2.0 and Speech
Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS) as W3C Recommendations. The
goal of VoiceXML 2.0 is to bring the advantages of Web-based development
and content delivery to interactive voice response applications. SRGS is
key to VoiceXML's support for speech recognition, and is used by
developers to describe end-users responses to spoken prompts.

Today's announcement marks the advancement to Recommendation status of
the first two specifications in W3C's Speech Interface Framework. Aimed
at the world's estimated two billion fixed line and mobile phones, W3C's
Speech Interface Framework will allow an unprecedented number of people
to use any telephone to interact with appropriately designed Web-based
services via key pads, spoken commands, listening to pre-recorded
speech, synthetic speech and music.

"The completion of VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS marks an exciting milestone in
the convergence of telecom technologies and the Web. Historically, there
were both technical and cultural gaps between the way voice-based
systems have evolved and that of the Internet and Web, leaving the
information available only to voice systems or the Web," explained Tim
Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "With the development of the W3C Speech
Interface Framework, including VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS, we're now able to
integrate and benefit from the strengths of both groups - the power and
impact of industrial research and broad product testing and deployment,
and the extensibility and openness of technical solutions that are
consistent with Web technical principles, and can scale accordingly."

A World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation is understood by
industry and the Web community at large as a Web standard. Each
Recommendation is a stable specification developed by a W3C Working
Group and reviewed by the W3C Membership. Recommendations promote
interoperability of Web technologies of the Web by explicitly conveying
the industry consensus formed by the Working Group.

VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS Lay the Foundations for the W3C Speech Interface

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 and other dialog
systems, and Semantic Interpretation for Speech Recognition, which
defines how speech grammars bind to application semantics.

VoiceXML 2.0 Delivers Voice and Interactivity to the W3C Speech
Interface Framework

VoiceXML 2.0 allows developers to create audio dialogs that feature
synthesized speech, digitized audio, recognition of spoken and Dual tone
multi-frequency (DTMF, or touch-tone) key input, recording of spoken
input, telephony, and mixed-initiative conversations. VoiceXML is
downloaded from HTTP servers in the same way as HTML. This means that
application developers can take full advantage of widely deployed and
industry proven Web technologies.

"VoiceXML 2.0 has the power to change the way phone-based information
and customer services are developed. No longer will we 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."

SRGS Drives Robust Recognition of User Responses

The Speech Recognition Grammar Specification--SRGS-- allows applications
to specify the words and phrases that users are prompted to speak. This
enables robust speaker independent recognition.

SRGS covers both speech and DTMF input. DTMF input is valuable in noisy
conditions or when the social context makes it awkward to speak. Speech
recognizers are generally able to report the degree of confidence --
that is, the likelihood of having correctly recognized the word or
phrase - and may provide the most likely alternatives when the
recognizer is uncertain as to which of them the user actually said.

SRGS is applicable to more than speech and has been successfully applied
to handwriting recognition where the user input is a constrained set of

Adoption Rate of VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS Already Industry Wide

In order to advance to W3C's Recommendation status, there must be
evidence of independent interoperable implementations - it must be
proven to work. In the case of VoiceXML 2.0, the implementation evidence
is extraordinary, with at least eight known implementations in both
prototype and fully released products. A complete list of current
implementors is available. The implementation report for SRGS includes
at least six complete, independent implementations.

There is an extensive, public test suite. While the initial version
contained roughly 300 tests, the final version contains over 600 tests.
This complements the test suite provided with the Speech Recognition
Grammar Specification and the test suite for Speech Synthesis Markup
Language which became a W3C Candidate Recommendation in December 2003.
Test suites for the remaining specifications in the W3C Speech Interface
Framework, including Semantic Interpretation for Speech Recognition and
CCXML, are under development by the W3C Voice Browser Working Group and
will be published over the next few months.

In addition to the continued work on the remainder of the Speech
Interface Framework, the Voice Browser Working Group is already hard at
work designing the requirements for the next major version of the dialog
markup language, which will build upon the success of VoiceXML 2.0 and
incorporate ideas from SALT, XHTML+Voice, and other W3C Member

The W3C Voice Browser Working Group is among the largest and most active
in W3C. Its participants include: Aspect Communications, BeVocal, Canon,
Comverse Technology, Convedia, ERCIM, France Telecom, HeyAnita, Hitachi,
HP, IBM, Intel, IWA-HWG, Loquendo, Microsoft, MITRE, Mitsubishi
Electric, Motorola, Nuance Communications, Openstream, SAP, Scansoft,
Siemens, Snowshore Networks, Sun Microsystems, Telera, Tellme Networks,
Verscape, VoiceGenie Technologies, Voxeo, and Voxpilot.

Testimonials for W3C's Recommendations - VoiceXML 2.0 and Speech
Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS)

These testimonials are in support of W3C's Recommendations - VoiceXML
2.0 and Speech Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS).

Aspect Communications | Comverse | Genesys Telecommunications
Laboratories | HP | IBM | Loquendo | Microsoft Corporation | Motorola |
Nuance | Openstream, Inc. | ScanSoft | TellMe | Vocalocity | VoiceGenie
| Voxeo | Voxpilot

Aspect Communications is committed to open, standards-based contact
center solutions. We believe VoiceXML 2.0 can contribute to the renewed
market interest in Interactive Voice Response solutions and speech
applications. By integrating VoiceXML 2.0 into both its traditional and
next-generation IVR platforms, Aspect is offering its customers
increased flexibility, portability, and investment protection.

-- James Barnett, Chief Architect, Customer Self-Service Products,
Aspect Communications

As a key participant on the W3C Voice Browser Working Group and a
longtime supporter of open standards, Comverse is pleased to contribute
to and endorse VoiceXML 2.0 and the Speech Recognition Grammar
Specification as W3C Recommendations. The ratification of these
standards allows Comverse to quickly and simply interchange speech
recognition technologies in order to provide its customers with the best
language recognition performance in each of the 100+ countries in which
it does business. Comverse's vision for total communication is a
borderless world where people are free to communicate in the way that is
most appropriate and convenient for them. VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS are
major steps forward in realizing this goal.

-- Andy Wulff, Chief Technology Officer, Comverse Americas

Genesys is a long time supporter of VoiceXML, and is delighted that
VoiceXML 2.0 has reached W3C recommendation status. As the world leader
in open standards-based voice platforms, Genesys is committed to support
VoiceXML and believes that open standards are the future for telephony
and speech applications. This milestone is a key measurement in
continuing the industry's evolution toward open standards-based
technologies. Genesys looks forward to continuing its support of future
advances in VoiceXML.

-- Paul Segre, Chief Technology Officer, Genesys Telecommunications
Laboratories, Inc.

HP congratulates the W3C Voice Browser Working Group and the interactive
media industry on reaching the VoiceXML 2.0 Recommendation. The
completion of the very first open standard for voice services is a
significant milestone in the telecommunications as well as Internet
industries. Network and service providers are moving away from
cumbersome, proprietary technologies and relying more on modular,
standards-based solutions for the speed and flexibility they need to
serve customer demand. Through our OpenCall Media Platform, HP enables
customers to reduce cost and simplify change using VoiceXML in a
carrier-grade environment.

-- Ed Verney, Director of Interactive Media Platforms, HP

VoiceXML 2.0, which has been key in the growth of speech applications by
providing a standards-based framework, allows businesses to deploy
applications today that leverage existing development skills and
resources. Because it allows speech deployments to be built over a
standard web-application infrastructure, VoiceXML also provides a clear
upgrade path as applications grow - unlike closed, proprietary
languages. VoiceXML forms the foundation for IBM's voice middleware,
including WebSphere Voice Server and WebSphere Voice Application Access.
By committing to open standards, we provide a clear path to future
upgrades that leverage existing skills, allowing enterprises to extend
their infrastructure. This commitment, and the W3C's work, is driving us
toward the next phase of speech interaction and in the near future,

-- Igor Jablokov, Program Director, IBM Pervasive Computing, IBM

As a leading player in speech technologies and voice platforms, Loquendo
believes that VoiceXML 2.0 and SRGS 1.0 Recommendations are an essential
step forward in promoting 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.Loquendo high-quality, high-performance technologies and
platforms power over 2,000,000 calls every day in the telecommunications
and enterprise markets throughout the world and guarantee solutions in
15 languages. Loquendo is very pleased to contribute to the development
of this specification, and will continue to give a strong support to W3C
and VoiceXML Forum activities.

-- Daniele Sereno, Vice President Product Engineering, Loquendo

W3C Speech Interface Framework is crucial to Microsoft's vision of
making speech mainstream. We have implemented SRGS, SSML and SI into
Microsoft Speech Server 2004 that integrates speech into HTML through
SALT. Such a seamless integration with HTML has enabled our customers to
extend their existing investments from desktop to multimodal and
telephony voice access in a single, cost effective step. Microsoft
Speech Server also provides development tools in the popular Visual
Studio .NET environment, paving the way for Speech Interface Framework
to be adopted by the mainstream Web developers. Today's recommendation
on SRGS is indeed an exciting first step.

-- Xuedong Huang, General Manager, Speech Technologies Group, Microsoft

Motorola strongly supports VoiceXML 2.0 and commends the W3C Voice
Browser Working Group for its efforts in developing this specification
and bringing it to Recommendation status. VoiceXML greatly simplifies
the process of creating and deploying voice services and is undergoing
broad adoption across the industry for a wide range of applications. In
the future, VoiceXML will provide the basis of multimodal-enabled
services, combining the benefits of voice with visual and
pen/stylus-based interaction to further simply and enrich information
services delivered to wireless devices.

-- Mark Randolph, Director of Technology Planning and Commercialization,
Motorola Labs

Since hundreds of our customers have already deployed speech solutions
using VoiceXML, Nuance appreciates its ability to make speech
application development simpler and less costly. We are very pleased
with the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) decision to advance VoiceXML
2.0 to official recommendation status. The standardization of VoiceXML
2.0 will meet a real market need for open speech standards and
accelerate the adoption of speech technologies worldwide.

-- John Shea, Vice President of Product Marketing and Management, Nuance

Openstream offers multimodal solutions based on its carrier-grade Smart
Messaging Platform. The Platform implements both VoiceXML 2.0 as well as
the XHTML+VoiceXML (X+V) to support multimodal interaction. Openstream
believes VoiceXML is an important standard and is proud to be part of
the W3C-led effort to ensure the standard can be implemented ultimately
in real world multimodal solutions.

-- Raj Tumuluri, President, Openstream Inc

ScanSoft congratulates the W3C Voice Browser Working Group on reaching
the Recommendation milestone for VoiceXML 2.0. 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. ScanSoft is committed to VoiceXML and the W3C processes
for standardization. Our SpeechWorks Family of ASR, TTS, and dialog
solutions are uniquely optimized to support VoiceXML 2.0 and enable our
partners to deliver industry-leading platforms, solutions,and services
that are revolutionizing the business of speech.

-- Steve Chambers, Senior Vice President and General Manager Network,
Speech Solutions, ScanSoft

VoiceXML 2.0, built on the Web foundation of HTML and JavaScript, is
rapidly transforming the proprietary telephone network to an open
architecture. While just having reached recommendation status today,
more than 1 in 10 people in the United States have already called a
VoiceXML application; by next year the number will increase to 1 in 4.
As the universal mark-up language for the phone, VoiceXML uses Web data
and voice recognition to deliver personalization to callers, low-cost
phone sites for enterprises and new services for consumers. The
combination of voice-over-IP and VoiceXML will unleash the creativity
and pace of the Web to transform the telecommunications industry to an
entirely open standards-based network.

-- Brad Porter, Director of Engineering, Tellme Networks Co-Editor,
VoiceXML 2.0

Five years ago, we launched the VoiceXML Forum with the goals of making
voice applications easier to develop and less expensive to deploy by
leveraging existing internet standards and infrastructure. Today, as
VoiceXML 2.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation, we see widespread adoption of
the new standard, sparking a level of innovation in applications never
before seen in telephony. At Vocalocity, we have designed and deployed a
highly customizable and extensible software platform that would not have
been possible without standards like VoiceXML 2.0. As a result, our OEM
and System Integrator customers enjoy lower costs and more efficient use
of their resources.

-- Ken Rehor, Chief Architect, Vocalocity; Co-Editor, VoiceXML 2.0; and
Member of Founding Team, VoiceXML Forum

VoiceGenie Technologies is delighted that the VoiceXML 2.0 Specification
has achieved full W3C Recommendation status, and applauds the diligence
of the contributors to this effort. As a participant in the W3C Voice
Browser and Multimodal Interaction Working Groups, and as a board member
of the VoiceXML Forum, VoiceGenie remains strongly commited to the
support of open standards such as VoiceXML 2.0, SRGS and SSML. The
VoiceGenie framework provides complete support for VoiceXML 2.0 and
integrates a selection of industry-leading ASR and TTS resources.
World-class customers including AT&T, Verizon, Oracle, Scotiabank and
hundreds of others have selected the VoiceGenie framework for critical
applications including customer care, directory assistance automation,
retail services, voice activated dialing and more. VoiceGenie fully
supports the work of the W3C and the VoiceXML Forum, and looks forward
to continued rapid growth in the deployment of applications based on the
open standards delivered to industry by the W3C.

-- Stuart Berkowitz, President and CEO, VoiceGenie Technologies.

The release of the W3C VoiceXML 2.0 specification is another significant
milestone in the explosive growth of VoiceXML. Prior to VoiceXML,
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platforms were proprietary IT islands -
disconnected from mainstream IT infrastructure. VoiceXML and the W3C
CCXML standard efforts bring IVR into the world of modern, integrated IT
solutions. As a result of this progress, over 200 enterprise customers
have already replaced proprietary IVR platforms with Voxeo VoiceCenter
VoiceXML and CCXML platforms and hosting services.

-- Jonathan Taylor, President and CEO, Voxeo Corporation

Voxpilot is delighted that the VoiceXML 2.0 specification has reached
W3C Recommendation, thereby establishing it as the industry standard
language for the delivery of Web-based content and applications via the
world's telephones. VoiceXML 2.0 is a key technology in Voxpilot's
product suite. By integrating the Voxpilot VoiceXML browser, any
telephony or media platform can be enhanced to support an open standard
Web model for IVR delivery. The Voxpilot Telecom Solution enables any
operator to become a voice service provider, as proved recently by
Swisscom and Monaco Telecom. As an active member of the W3C Voice
Browser Working Group, Voxpilot has made a significant contribution to
the standardization of VoiceXML and continues its support for future
evolutions of the specification.

-- Dr. Dave Burke, CTO, Voxpilot Ltd.

Contact Americas, Australia --
     Janet Daly, <janet@w3.org>, +1.617.253.5884 or +1.617.253.2613
Contact Europe --
     Marie-Claire Forgue, <mcf@w3.org>, +33.492.38.75.94
Contact Asia --
     Yasuyuki Hirakawa <yasuyuki@w3.org>, +81.466.49.1170

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 Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
(CSAIL) 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 400 organizations are Members of the
Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/

Received on Tuesday, 16 March 2004 10:00:00 UTC

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