W3C discusses voice interaction

World Wide Web Consortium takes another look at internet/voice interaction.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the guardian of web standards, plans to take another look at vocal interaction with websites by relaunching its Voice Browser Working Group to better enable users to speak and listen to web-based applications.

The group, says the W3C, will concentrate on "standardising languages for capturing and producing speech, and for managing the dialog between users and computers."

"The telephone was invented more than 150 years ago, and continues to be a very important means for us to communicate with each other," according to the W3C's introduction to the group's work.

"The web by comparison is very recent, but has rapidly become a competing communications channel. The convergence of telecommunications and the Web is now bringing the benefits of web technology to the telephone, enabling web developers to create applications that can be accessed via any telephone, and allowing people to interact with these applications via speech and telephone keypads."

Areas for standardisation include voice dialogs, speech synthesis, speech recognition, telephony call control for voice browsers and voice response sytems generally. This includes help for people with hearing or speaking impairments.

Possible applications identified by the W3C include accessing personal information (such as calendars, address and telephone lists and to-do lists), public information (weather, traffic conditions, school closures and local and national news) and business information (such as 'front desks' asking callers who or what they want and automated telephone ordering services or event booking services).

Specifically, the focus of the group, as before, will be on the W3C Speech Interface Framework suite of specifications, which includes the likes of VoiceXML, a Speech Recognition Grammar Specification, a Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) and Semantic Interpretation for Speech Recognition (SISR).

Scott McGlashan, of HP, and Jim Larson, described as an 'invited expert' will chair the group.

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