VoiceXML Forum Strongly Endorses W3C’s Release of VoiceXML 2.0 as a Candidate Recommendation

SAN DIEGO, TELEPHONY VOICE USER INTERFACE CONFERENCE, Feb. 4, 2003 — In conjunction with this week’s TMA Telephony Voice User Interface Conference (TVUI), the VoiceXML Forum proudly announces its strong support for the W3C’s release last week of VoiceXML 2.0 as a Candidate Recommendation. The Forum sees VoiceXML 2.0 as a stable standard for creating voice applications, providing a key building block for enabling multimodal interaction on the World Wide Web.

"With the W3C’s announcement last week, there is clear, industry-wide momentum behind VoiceXML 2.0, as the dominant language for deploying open-standards voice applications," says Eric Jackson of VoiceGenie, chair of the VoiceXML Forum’s Marketing Committee. "The VoiceXML Forum is excited to strongly support this further evidence of the maturity of VoiceXML. Today, millions of calls around the world are answered by VoiceXML-based infrastructure. Over the next year, we expect further adoption of VoiceXML compared to legacy, proprietary-based IVR systems."

The VoiceXML Forum also announces that it will again use the annual AVIOS show as the venue for its third Users’ Group Meeting (UGM). This year’s UGM, set for 3 April 2003 in San Jose, will also enable the Forum to launch several of its key work items for 2003. The one-day UGM, intended for everyone from developers to senior-level business executives, is the industry’s premiere event describing the business and technical benefits of deploying VoiceXML-based applications. Attendees will be able to learn about the latest trends through real-life case studies of voice and touch-tone based services; multimodal applications; usability design and testing; implementation testing; and developer certification, among other key topics. Interested The agenda and secure online registration form are available at http://www.avios.com/conference.htm.

"While our past UGM’s have been successful, featuring presentations and panel discussions by key technologists and business leaders from the VoiceXML industry, we’re anticipating this to be our best session yet," says Jonathan Engelsma of Motorola, chair of the VoiceXML Forum’s Education Committee. "With the recent release of VoiceXML 2.0 as a candidate recommendation by the W3C, the speech technology industry is truly energized. The UGM will provide a firsthand perspective on what is happening within the VoiceXML community, and provide ample opportunity to meet and mingle with people who are making it happen."

The VoiceXML Forum, driving forward several key initiatives in 2003, will use its April UGM to share its current work with the industry. Among those initiatives are a VoiceXML developer certification program, a VoiceXML conformance test suite, and a platform certification program. The VoiceXML 2.0 Candidate Recommendation and the accompanying Implementation Report Test Suite provide a solid base for interoperability of applications, platforms and tools.

The VoiceXML Forum’s Conformance Committee is building upon the W3C VoiceXML Implementation Report Test Suite to create a full conformance test suite, and an associated testing program, that provide a basis for vendor interoperability and, more importantly, application portability. Application portability improves the attractiveness of the language to those who buy equipment and to those who develop applications. The Forum’s test suite will be expanded to include related W3C technologies such as the Speech Recognition Grammar Specification, and the Speech Synthesis Markup Language.

All parties are encouraged to join the Forum’s public conformance discussion group, available at www.voicexml.org. VoiceXML Forum members contribute directly to the development of the test suite through the Conformance Committee.

About the VoiceXML Forum

The VoiceXML Forum is an industry organization that formed to create and promote the Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML). With the backing and contributions of its diverse membership, including key industry leaders, since its inception the VoiceXML Forum has successfully driven market acceptance of VoiceXML through a wide array of speech-enabled applications. Currently the Forum has more than 380 member companies, distributed across three membership categories (Sponsor, Promoter and Supporter). Membership in the Forum is open to any interested company.

The core activities of the VoiceXML Forum are driven by its four active committees: Education, Marketing, Tools and Conformance. The Forum publishes VoiceXML Review (http://www.voicexmlreview.org), an electronic magazine dedicated to VoiceXML, featuring insightful articles written by industry experts. Its public website (www.voicexml.org) is a rich, one-stop source for information about VoiceXML and related technologies. The VoiceXML Forum is organized as a program of the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO).

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VoiceXML Forum Uses SpeechTEK 2002 as Setting for Upcoming Users Group Meeting

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Oct. 8, 2002 — The VoiceXML Forum will sponsor a Users Group Meeting (UGM) on 31 October 2002 at the 8th Annual SpeechTEK International Expo and Educational Conference in New York City that will provide an interactive forum to share and discuss critical information related to VoiceXML applications and implementations. The meeting will take place between noon and 5:30 pm. Registration for the UGM is available via the web at: www.voicexml.org.

Top industry experts from the VoiceXML Forum will lead five 45-minute discussions on topics such as VoiceXML conformance and interoperability, VoiceXML design and implementation, SSML and CCXML. The sessions will run sequentially to allow attendees the opportunity to attend and provide input into each session. All sessions will feature an open question and answer segment.

"It’s an incredible experience to be part of the explosive growth of VoiceXML," said Bill Dykas, Chairman of the VoiceXML Forum and Pervasive Computing Segment Manager at IBM. "The demand for information about VoiceXML is demonstrated by the expanding attendance at the VoiceXML Forum’s Users Group Meetings in the past few years. The increasing demand is causing the Forum to now sponsor Users Group events throughout the year. In 2001 it was one event, in 2002 we led two meetings. Going forward our plans are to sponsor multiple, geographically dispersed events to serve the interests of the VoiceXML community."

The October gathering will mark the Forum’s fourth Users Group Meeting. Previous meetings have been attended by as many as 230 people, and have spawned geographic sub efforts such as the VoiceXML Forum’s Boston Users Group. SpeechTEK provides an ideal backdrop for a UGM, as it is renowned as the world’s premier event dedicated exclusively to speech products, applications and solutions.

About the VoiceXML Forum

The VoiceXML Forum is an industry organization that formed to create and promote the Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML). With the backing and contributions of its diverse membership, including key industry leaders, since its inception the VoiceXML Forum has successfully driven market acceptance of VoiceXML through a wide array of speech-enabled applications. Currently the Forum has more than 380 member companies, distributed across three membership categories (Sponsor, Promoter and Supporter). Membership in the Forum is open to any interested company.

The core activities of the VoiceXML Forum are driven by its four active committees: Education, Marketing, Tools and Conformance. The Forum publishes VoiceXML Review (http://www.voicexmlreview.org), an electronic magazine dedicated to VoiceXML, featuring insightful articles written by industry experts. Its public website (www.voicexml.org) is a rich, one-stop source for information about VoiceXML and related technologies. The VoiceXML Forum is organized as a program of the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO).

For more information on the VoiceXML Forum, or about the upcoming Users Group Meeting, please visit www.voicexml.org or contact the Forum’s Administrative Team at +1-732-465-6464.

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VoiceXML Forum Announces Support for W3C’s Multimodal Interaction Activity

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Feb. 25, 2002 — The VoiceXML Forum today announced support for the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Multimodal Activity (http://www.w3.org/2002/mmi/) – a newly-formed working group which will look into standards and software to access web applications and services by voice, keyboard, key pad, mobile phones and devices. Members of the VoiceXML Forum, including AT&T, IBM, Lucent, Motorola, Nuance, and VoiceGenie will participate in W3C’s efforts.

Multimodal applications are set to grow in importance in the coming years, bringing benefits to businesses, developers and end-users. Today, web applications cannot be accessed by more than one channel at a time – e.g., using both voice and keypad on a wireless handheld device at the same time. With upcoming technology, devices from the desktop computer to the handheld PDA, from the automobile to the cellular phone, will be able to support multiple modes of access and communication, allowing them true anyplace, anywhere, anytime access.

With that, developers will need an open, standards-based way to write applications that allow for multiple types of input and output simultaneously, as well as enable devices of various platforms to operate with one another. For instance, a business traveller will be able to call an automated call center to ask for flight information using speech, and have that information appear as text on his handheld device.

"Multimodal applications are the next step in the growth of voice technology. A key component in making anyplace, anywhere access more convenient and real, it allows end-users to use the most suitable form of input and output no matter what situation they’re in," said Bill Dykas Chairman of the VoiceXML Forum, "Standards that use existing languages that developers are already familiar with are key to this."

This also means that companies will not have to hire several groups of developers with different skill sets, saving companies resource, time and money. These new applications will also work with other multimodal applications, and be easily extended from existing web or voice applications, as a large number of those already use XHTML or VoiceXML.

Examples of multimodal applications:

Mobile stock trading: using voice to request stock quotes with a hand-held device, having the quote appear as a chart, and submitting a trade by voice. Web-based auctions: using a hand-held to view item and then bidding via voice commands Navigational systems in cars: voice-enabled navigational devices Web browsers in automobile: in a moving vehicle, the device automatically shuts off the graphical browser and switches to voice to ensure that the driver is not distracted. The VoiceXML Forum through its 600 plus members are developing products and deploying applications built on the VoiceXML standard, now in Version 2.0 review. The natural extension of the VoiceXML standard to support Multimodal applications will speed the expansion of combined voice and data applications. VoiceXML Forum member and Supporters of VoiceXML will contribute to the W3C’s efforts to develop multimodal standards. The Forum believes extending VoiceXML is the logical path for multimodal development.

More information on the VoiceXML Forum can be found at: http://www.voicexml.org.

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VoiceXML Forum Signs Memorandum of Understanding with World Wide Web Consortium

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Oct. 23, 2001 — The VoiceXML Forum today announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It marks the VoiceXML Forum’s release of the trademark to the public domain. The signing of the MOU also coincides with the W3C release of the first Public Working Draft of VoiceXML version 2.0.

VoiceXML is the voice markup language that’s driving the voice-enabled internet – with applications as far-reaching as Call Center automation, on-board navigation, voice-activated emergency systems, audio-enabled email, and other instances involving interactivity between the web and a telephone.

"The MOU between our two organizations paves the way for each to focus on different aspects of VoiceXML – while maintaining our close working relationship," said Jean-François Abramatic, Chairman of the W3C.

"The W3C developed the version 2.0 specification," Abramatic further explained, "and will continue to lead its technical development. The VoiceXML Forum, in coordination with the W3C, is providing certification programs to ensure to the buying public and vendors alike of VoiceXML interoperability. In addition, the VoiceXML Forum is taking leadership of the educational issues needed to implement the specification, as well as marketing it to gain an even larger installed base."

An RFP to independent technical laboratories will be issued on Monday, Oct. 29 by the VoiceXML’s Conformance Committee, to coincide with the release of VoiceXML 2.0. Interested vendors should contact Ken Rehor, Chairman of the VoiceXML Conformance Committee.

The Conformance Committee is open to all Promoters and Sponsors of the Forum, and includes many of the same member companies who worked with the W3C Voice Browser Working Group on VoiceXML version 2.0. The mandate of the Conformance Committee is to devise the test suites by which VoiceXML products and services can be certified compliant with the specification. An open process involving Promoters and other members will ensure interoperability. An independent certification laboratory will be selected to carry out the stringent tests. Only products that pass will be entitled to label their equipment as certified by the VoiceXML Forum.

In addition to issuing the RFP for technical labs, the VoiceXML Forum’s Board of Directors announced that the number of Sponsor members who participate on the Board will be expanded beyond the four founding companies, beginning in 2002. "VoiceXML is a burgeoning industry – with hundreds of real-world applications already in place. Given the deep investment by vendors and enterprises, the Board wants to reflect the broader array of what this technology has to offer," said William A. Dykas, Chairman of the VoiceXML Forum.

Since the formation of the Forum in March 1999 membership has surged from the four founding members to more than 550 companies worldwide. The Forum, which developed the Working Draft of VoiceXML 1.0, is a program of the IEEE-Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO). More information about the VoiceXML Forum’s conformance activities can be found at www.voicexml.org/conformance. For more information about the VoiceXML Forum, please visit www.voicexml.org, or contact Greg Kohn, Program Manager at +1-732-465-6486 or at greg.kohn@ieee-isto.org.

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VoiceXML Forum Celebrates Second Anniversary

LOS ANGELES, COMPUTER TELEPHONY EXPO 2001, Mar. 7, 2001 — The VoiceXML Forum today celebrated its second anniversary by announcing the first annual VoiceXML Forum Users Group Meeting. Only two years after its formation–and one year after releasing the VoiceXML 1.0 specification–the Forum has grown from its original four to over 420 members.

Founded in March 1999 by AT&T, IBM, Lucent Technologies and Motorola, the VoiceXML Forum was formed to develop and promote the Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML), a language enabling Internet-based telephone services and voice-enabled access to content and information on the Web. Today the Forum supports the work of the VoiceXML community through its conformance, marketing, education, and outreach efforts.

The First Annual VoiceXML Forum Users Group Meeting will be held April 5, 2001 in San Jose, Calif. (one day after the closing session of AVIOS 2001 and at the same venue). The meeting provides a forum for the VoiceXML community to gather with VoiceXML industry leaders and share issues, knowledge, and information.

Bill Dykas, chairman of the VoiceXML Forum, feels the Users Group Meeting and other activities of the Forum underscore the Forum’s vital role in the VoiceXML community.

"We announced Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML Specifications here at CT Expo only 12 months ago," Dykas said. "Since then, we have seen the Forum triple its membership, and have witnessed a range of real-world applications that utilize VoiceXML. In addition, the Forum has expanded its activities into marketing and education and the W3C is looking at making VoiceXML the official standard for voice enabled web content. We feel confident that 2001 will be the year when VoiceXML will really take off."

Following are some of the recent achievements of Forum:

Rapidly Growing Membership Base One year ago, at the time it released the VoiceXML 1.0 specification, the Forum was backed by 79 member companies. Today the Forum features more than 420 member companies (4 Sponsor Members, 41 Promoter Members, and over 375 Supporter Members). The wide range of members brings a diversity of skills and interest to the Forum, and enhances its influence on the VoiceXML community.

Launch of VoiceXML Review and Tutorials At the start of 2001, the VoiceXML Forum published the first issue of its electronic magazine, VoiceXML Review (http://www.voicexmlreview.org). Developed by the Forum’s Education Committee, the monthly publication will serve as an educational vehicle for the VoiceXML community, and provide a mechanism for the Forum to promote its initiatives. The Forum anticipates the e-zine will foster growth and maturation in VoiceXML technology by educating the speech recognition community and attracting new participants. The Forum also recently unveiled a series of interactive tutorials designed to introduce developers to VoiceXML technology.

Committee Activities Fully Engaged Thanks to its ever-growing membership, the committee-level activities of the Forum have shifted into full gear. Some of the work in the committees is as follows:

Conformance Committee: Currently exploring various means and mechanisms by which users can gauge conformance to the VoiceXML specification.

Education Committee: Responsible for promoting the understanding of VoiceXML and the VoiceXML Forum within the VoiceXML community and beyond. Some of the activities of the Forum include publication of VoiceXML Review, the creation of Web-based tutorials, and the organization of events such as the upcoming Users Group Meeting.

Marketing Committee: Oversees all of the marketing efforts of the Forum, including the dissemination of VoiceXML-related information to the technical community. The committee’s work also focuses on market research, development of media strategies and branding efforts.

The VoiceXML Forum is an industry organization established to program of IEEE-ISTO.

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VoiceXML Forum Launches First Issue of VoiceXML Review

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Jan. 15, 2001 — The VoiceXML Forum today launched the inaugural issue of its e-zine, VoiceXML Review. Developed by the Forum’s Education Committee, the publication will serve as an educational vehicle for the VoiceXML community, and provide a mechanism for the Forum to promote its initiatives. The Forum anticipates the e-zine will foster growth and maturation in VoiceXML technology by educating the speech recognition community and attracting new participants. The e-zine can be accessed via the Web at http://www.voicexmlreview.org.

“For the first time, contributors and observers within the VoiceXML community will have a place to publish their findings and experiences, and learn from others on a regular basis,” said Jonathan Engelsma, Editor-in-Chief of VoiceXML Review. “The interest shown so far in this periodical is exciting, and we believe it has great potential in further disseminating VoiceXML knowledge and expertise within and beyond the Forum’s membership.”

The articles in VoiceXML Review will be authored by experts in the field of VoiceXML, most of whom are members of the VoiceXML Forum. The periodical will be freely available via the Forum’s Web site. An option will be available for readers to “register” themselves as subscribers, which will allow them to receive notification when new issues are posted. VoiceXML Review will also feature an interactive search page and an archive of past issues.

Each issue of VoiceXML Review will feature a blend of full-length feature articles, monthly columns, and news from the VoiceXML community. The first issue of the e-zine will present the following articles:

Features: "What is VoiceXML?” by Kenneth G. Rehor · “Activities of the VoiceXML Forum and the W3C” by Gerald M. Karam

Columns: “First Words: VoiceXML—Where Speech Meets the Web” by Rob Marchand · “Speak & Listen: Find Answers to Your VoiceXML Questions” by Jeff Kunins

The VoiceXML Forum is an industry organization established to promote VoiceXML as the universal standard for speech-enabled Web applications. The Forum, which is composed of over 350 member companies (4 Sponsor Members, 29 Promoter Members, and 320 Supporter Members), supports the work of the VoiceXML community through its conformance testing, marketing, education, and outreach efforts. Bolstered by a membership that has more than tripled in the past year, in 2000 the Forum launched a Technical Council to support its Conformance and Education Committees, and also formed a Marketing Committee. The VoiceXML Forum is a program of the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO), which manages the day-to-day operations of the Forum.

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VoiceXML(TM) Forum Founders Submit VoiceXML 1.0 Specification to W3C

PISCATAWAY, N.J., May 22, 2000 — The VoiceXML Forum today announced that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has acknowledged the submission of Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML specification. At its May 10-12 meetings in Paris, the W3C’s Voice Browser Working Group agreed to adopt VoiceXML 1.0 as the basis for the development of a W3C dialog markup language.

The Forum’s founding members, AT&T, IBM, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola made the W3C submission. Acknowledgement by the W3C will help to accelerate and expand the reach of the Internet through voice-enabled Web content and services. The VoiceXML Forum will host the next meeting of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group in September 2000.

"As the W3C Voice Browser Working Group begins to define the speech interface framework that extends the Web to voice-based devices, we will use VoiceXML as a model for our dialog markup language. The W3C speech interface framework will include integrated markup languages for dialog, grammar, speech synthesis, natural language semantics, and multimodal dialogs, as well as a standard list of reusable dialogs," said Jim Larson of the Intel Architecture Labs, who is Co-chair of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group.

The VoiceXML 1.0 specification is based on years of research and development at AT&T, IBM, Lucent Technologies and Motorola, as well as on comments from VoiceXML Forum supporters. Since the release of VoiceXML 1.0 in March 2000, the Forum has nearly doubled its supporter membership to more than 150 companies.

Based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s industry-standard Extensible Markup Language (XML), Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML specification provides a high-level programming interface to speech and telephony resources for application developers, service providers and equipment manufacturers. Standardization of VoiceXML will:

  • Simplify creation and delivery of Web-based, personalized interactive voice-response services;
  • Enable phone and voice access to integrated call center databases, information and services on Web sites, and company intranets; and
  • Help enable new voice-capable devices and appliances.

The VoiceXML Forum will continue its activities to support and promote VoiceXML as a standard method for providing voice access to Internet content and services.

Members of the Forum will be participating in the Speech Technology & Applications Expo 2000 in San Jose on May 22-24. The first day of the Expo will conclude with a VoiceXML Tutorial. VoiceXML will also be the focus of at least five other presentations given during the three-day conference.

The VoiceXML Forum is open to any company interested in making Internet information and content accessible by voice and phone. For further information, please contact Cindy Tiritilli, VoiceXML Forum Program Administrator at +1-732-465-6464 or ctiritilli@voicexml.org.

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VoiceXML Forum Issues Version 1.0 of New Markup Language for Voice Internet Access

LOS ANGELES, COMPUTER TELEPHONY EXPO 2000, Mar. 7, 2000 — The VoiceXML Forum today announced it has completed the VoiceXML 1.0 specification, which is expected to expand the reach of the Internet by providing voice access to content and services. The Forum membership, which now numbers 79 companies, is reviewing the specification before it is submitted to the appropriate body for formal standardization.

Based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s industry-standard eXtensible Markup Language (XML), Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML specification provides a high-level programming interface to speech and telephony resources for application developers, service providers and equipment manufacturers. Standardization of VoiceXML will:

  • Simplify creation and delivery of Web-based, personalized interactive voice-response services;
  • Enable phone and voice access to integrated call center databases, information and services on Web sites, and company intranets; and
  • Help enable new voice-capable devices and appliances.

On the basis of the 0.9 version of the specification released last year, many companies have already begun implementing VoiceXML in their products and services, and a market for third-party VoiceXML application development has begun to emerge. The 1.0 version of the specification, currently being reviewed by Forum members, is now available to the public on the Forum’s Web site at http://www.voicexml.org.

"The telephone network has long had the potential to grow in information services and automated commerce like the Internet, but the difficulty of integrating them with quality voice services has prevented it from doing so," said William S. Meisel, president of TMA Associates, publisher/editor of the Speech Recognition Update newsletter and one of the speech technology industry’s best-known independent analysts and consultants. "VoiceXML is a key component in letting telephone speech recognition and the Voice Web grow in Internet time."

The VoiceXML 1.0 specification is based on years of research and development at AT&T, IBM, Lucent Technologies and Motorola, as well as comments from Forum members.

Another 18 companies have joined the VoiceXML Forum as supporters since the 0.9 specification was issued, including Brooktrout Software; Cisco Systems; ConApps; Gold Systems, Inc.; Indicast Corporation; Intraco Systems; IP Unity; ITT Industries; Net Technologies, Inc.; Nokia Corporation; Oki Electric Company, Ltd.; Onebox.com; PipeBeach AB; S-Link Corporation; Spyglass, Inc.; SS8 Networks, Inc.; Vail Systems, Inc.; and Voyant Technologies, Inc.

A number of VoiceXML Forum members are exhibiting this week at CT Expo, the world’s largest trade show for providers and users of computer-telephony equipment, services, software and solutions

The objective of the VoiceXML Forum is to expand Internet access through telephones and other devices using both speech and ordinary touch-tone user interfaces.

The Forum recently engaged the management services of the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization to facilitate its day-to-day activities. For further information, visit the Forum’s Web site (http://www.voicexml.org) or call 732-465-6464.

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VoiceXML Forum Releases Preliminary Specification, More Than Triples Membership

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Aug. 25, 1999 — The Voice eXtensible Markup Language (VoiceXML) Forum has released its preliminary specification for VoiceXML, the new markup language that is expected to expand the reach of the Internet through voice access to Web content and services. Since its launch in March 1999 as the VXML Forum, the group has more than tripled in size by adding 44 leading technology industry players to its membership roster.

The VoiceXML specification introduces a markup language for voice applications based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML), an emerging technology that is expected to revolutionize the Internet industry. The VoiceXML Forum aims to drive the market for voice-enabled Internet services through the creation of a common specification based on existing Internet standards.

The VoiceXML specification is expected to simplify creation and delivery of Web-based, personalized interactive voice-response services and enable phone and voice access to integrated call center databases, information on Web sites, and company intranets. The VoiceXML specification also will help enable new voice-capable devices and appliances.

Joining the 17 original Forum supporters endorsing the standardization effort are 44 companies including: @Motion, Inc., 1 to 1 Communications, 4th Peripheral Technologies, Applied Speech Technologies, Arabesque Communications, Inc., Array Systems Computing, Berst-Tech, Conversa, Cycad (Singapore) PTE, Ltd., DonnyWorld, Inc., Elan Informatique, EncoTone Ltd., Entropic Incorporated, Ericsson, Fletcher’s Communications PL, France Telecom, Interprise Ventures, ITX Networks, Inc., KRON Networks, Living Systems AG, Locus Dialogue, MCS Corporation, Mediagate, Inc., Metro Link Incorporated, Mitel, Net By Phone, Novell, Parlant, PassCall Advanced Technologies Ltd., Qualcomm Incorporated, ReadyCom, Inc., Sage Health Management Solutions, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Scotty’s Home Market, Siemens, SpeakLink.com, Speech Recognition Consultant, Speech Solutions, Sprint PCS, Sun Microsystems, TouchNet Information Systems, Inc., Vox2, Inc., Voxware, Inc., and Wildfire Communications, Inc.

Also, IBM joins AT&T, Lucent Technologies and Motorola as a promoter of the Forum and is contributing its Speech Markup Language technology.

Forum supporters were recently provided with the initial specification, which is now available to the public on the Forum’s Web site. After incorporating comments and contributions, the VoiceXML Forum plans to release version 1.0 of its specification to an appropriate standards body for consideration later this year. Meanwhile, the Forum is inviting participation by other companies that wish to support the Forum’s objective of expanding Web access through telephones and other devices using both speech and ordinary touchtone-type user interfaces.

AT&T, Lucent and Motorola have contributed their respective phone and voice markup languages to help the Forum create an open specification leveraging the best of these technologies. IBM’s Speech Markup Language technology gives the Forum and its specification additional technical strength and the benefit of IBM’s experience in this area.

The Forum changed its name to better emphasize its goal of bringing voice access to the Web. More information about the VoiceXML Forum is available on its Web site: http://www.voicexml.org or by email at info@voicexml.org.

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AT&T, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola Create VoiceXML Forum

BASKING RIDGE and MURRAY HILL, N.J. and CHICAGO, Mar. 2, 1999 — AT&T, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola announced today the formation of the Voice eXtensible Markup Language Forum (VXML Forum) to make the resources of the World Wide Web accessible by telephone. The Forum aims to drive the market for voice- and phone-enabled Internet access by promoting a standard specification for VXML, a computer language used to create Web content and services that can be accessed by phone.

AT&T, Lucent and Motorola will contribute their markup language technologies to the development of the open VXML specification. Seventeen other leading companies from the speech, Internet and communications markets have agreed to support the VXML Forum and play an active role in reviewing or contributing to the VXML specification. Industry supporters include 3Com Corporation, Blue Diamond, British Telecommunications plc, Dragon Systems, General Magic, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lernout & Hauspie, Nortel Networks, Nuance Communications, Online Anywhere, Philips, Registry Magic, SpeechWorks, Unisys, Vocalis and Vogo. The initial specification will be available for public comment and contribution next month, with the goal of submitting a final proposed specification for standardization to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) later this year.

The VXML Forum seeks to promote a broadly supported standard that creates an open, platform-independent environment and enables equipment and infrastructure providers, speech technology providers, speech application developers and content providers, and communications service providers to participate in the growth of this market. In addition to giving users the option of voice-enabled Internet and intranet access, expected benefits include new business opportunities for content developers, greater ease of application development – and thus an expanded developer base – for the speech community, and more rapid creation of differentiated services for carriers.

"Just as standardization of HTML [Hypertext Markup Language] drove the adoption of traditional Web applications, standardization of VXML will drive the adoption of voice- enabled applications," said Maria Martinez, vice president and general manager, Internet and Connectivity Solutions Division (ICSD), Motorola, Inc. "The VXML Forum’s efforts will not only help to provide a crucial mobile component to Internet access, but will also offer Internet access to the 58 percent of people who own a telephone but don’t own or have access to a computer."

One example of a voice-enabled application is a salesperson dialing into a corporate intranet from any phone and using conversational interaction to receive real-time order status information. Similarly, users could access Web-based weather or traffic information, banking transaction services, and other electronic commerce applications without touching a computer keyboard.

"When people can interact with a Web application or an IP [Internet Protocol]-based service this way, the ordinary touch-tone phone literally becomes the ubiquitous Internet access device," said Larry Rabiner, vice president of Research for AT&T Labs. "This technology makes it possible to launch a variety of Internet information and communications applications from anywhere – you only need access to a telephone."

A markup language is a high-level programming language that simplifies content development. To place an image on a Web page, for example, a programmer writes a simple instruction in HTML calling for retrieval of a particular image file. Similarly, a content developer could use VXML to program a particular audio prompt to play over the telephone.

"VXML will have profound impacts," said Lucent Speech Solutions President Dan Furman, "changing the way we use the phone – and perhaps the design of phones themselves – as well as changing the nature and evolution of the Web."