VoiceXML 2.0 reaches W3C milestone
- By John K. Waters
While Microsoft touted the latest release of its SALT-based Speech Server at
last week's SpeechTEK conference, a competing speech standard reached a
milestone. The Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML) 2.0 received final
'recommendation' status from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
VoiceXML is the standard scripting language for rendering Web pages over the
telephone. The decision of the W3C to advance VoiceXML 2.0, along with the
supporting Speech Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS), to recommendation
status effectively establishes them as Web standards. It means that the
standards group considers the spec to be stable and that it contributes to Web
interoperability. It also means that the W3C membership favors its adoption by
VoiceXML and SRGS are parts of the W3C's Speech Interface Framework, which is
an evolving set of standards for building applications that let users interact
with Web-based services over a telephone with a range of voice-based
As a standard, VoiceXML has ''huge momentum,'' said Yankee Group analyst Art
Schoeller, with VoiceXML 2.0-compliant products already on the market from core
technology, platform, development-tool and hosted services providers.
Zelos Group senior analyst Dan Miller sees broad industry adoption of the
standard. VoiceXML appeals to major speech-enabled enterprises, including
financial services, travel and telcos, he said, because it ''carries with it the
promise of reusable code and portability.''
According to the VoiceXML Forum, more than 10,000 commercial VoiceXML-based
applications have been deployed worldwide for applications such as customer
care, directory assistance, telematics and unified messaging. The industry
organization was to promote VoiceXML, and is currently backed by some industry
heavyweights, including AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lucent and Motorola. The
group reports that more than 370 member companies are currently developing and
deploying VoiceXML-based applications, products and services. Membership in the
Forum is open to any interested company.
In support of the W3C announcement, the Forum disclosed plans to launch the
VoiceXML Platform Certification Program in the next quarter. Currently in the
pilot phase, the program consists of a series of tests to determine whether a
VoiceXML platform is fully compliant with the latest release of the spec.
According to Forum spokesperson Christian Danella, the program will test for
compliance with the VoiceXML 2.0 Recommendation and the W3C's VoiceXML 2.0
The Forum wants to encourage VoiceXML platform vendors to submit their
products for testing and certification, Danella said. Platforms will be
certified on a first-come, first-served basis. To submit a platform for
certification, visit the Forum's Web site at http://www.voicexml.org. The group plans to
list VoiceXML-certified platforms on the site.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached