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Intel, Microsoft season speech with SALT

Intel and Microsoft are jointly developing technologies and a reference design based on the Speech Applications Language Tags (SALT) 1.0 specification submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in August. According to Intel, the reference design will include the Microsoft .NET Speech platform along with Intel architecture servers, Intel NetStructure communications boards, and Intel telephony call management interface software.

The SALT spec defines a set of lightweight tags as extensions to commonly used Web-based programming languages. 'The idea,' said James Mastan, director of marketing for Microsoft's .NET Speech Technologies, 'was not to reinvent the wheel, but to take advantage of the existing Web infrastructure and standards, and simply add some lightweight standards that allow developers to add speech to their Web applications in an integrated fashion.'

In so-called multimodal applications, these tags can be added to support speech input and output, either as standalone events or jointly with other interface options, such as speaking while pointing to the screen with a stylus, Mastan said. In telephony applications, the tags provide a programming interface to manage the speech recognition and text-to-speech resources needed to conduct interactive dialogs with the caller through a speech-only interface.

The two companies claim that use of Intel telephony building blocks and the Microsoft .NET Speech platform will help customers more quickly and easily speech-enable Web solutions.

'By using the Microsoft .NET speech platform running with Intel Architecture servers and Intel NetStructure communication boards, we will broaden the reach of speech-enabled applications,' said Howard Bubb, vice president at Intel and general manager of the Network Processing Group, in a statement. 'The use of standards-based ... technologies in the reference design brings the element of modularity to the solution, and provides higher performance, lower development costs and quicker time to market for resulting products.'

The partners plan to develop and test their respective technology components and the reference design so developers can build speech-enabled Web applications for the enterprise market segment. Together, Microsoft and Intel will also engage in joint sales and marketing activities focused on their respective enterprise and channel customers, distributors, technology partners, ISVs and the Web developer community.

The Microsoft .NET Speech platform is designed to allow companies to develop and deploy self-service applications for the telephone and a range of mobile devices with a natural speech interface.

Microsoft describes its .NET Speech platform as an 'open, non-proprietary SALT-based solution for deploying Web-based speech applications.' It is a central component of the company's SALT-based offerings. Microsoft was the first company to release a SALT-based development tool. The .NET Speech SDK is a suite of dev tools and speech controls that integrate with Visual Studio .NET and ASP.NET.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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