IBM Releases Seven New Voice Products

BOSTON (06/22/2000) - IBM Corp. is releasing seven new voice technology products in the coming months, including developer toolkits aimed at helping to boost the number of voice-enabled applications for companies doing business on the Internet.

The products are targeted mostly at Internet companies and those using call center technologies, according to IBM. Products also will enable voice technologies on mobile devices.

"The developer community and large enterprises ... need a platform and a set of tools that give them the ability to develop voice applications," said W.S.

"Ozzie" Osborne, general manager of IBM Voice Systems.

"We're in the same position we were in back in the early '90s with client-server," he said of voice technology, adding that a standard interface is needed to push use of that technology on the Internet. A set of "great core technologies" exists, but few developers are writing applications now using complex tools.

The IBM toolkits, Osborne said, strip complexity out of the development process and will therefore encourage developers to write their own interfaces and applications. Offering easy-to-use developer toolkits could mean that the use of voice technology on the Internet "goes from millions to hundreds of millions" of users, he said.

The IBM products, which were officially announced Thursday, are available now (unless noted otherwise) and include:

-- IBM WebSphere Voice Server with ViaVoice Technology for Windows NT. It will be shipped in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year and will be priced starting at US$15,000. The server software enables voice applications based on Voice XML and is aimed at call-center technologies for companies doing business over the Internet.

VoiceXML works with WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) so that voice applications can be used on mobile devices. A free software developers kit for the voice server is available now at the IBM AlphaWorks Web site, http://www.alphaworks.com/.

The voice server eventually will be available on multiple platforms, but the rollout will start with IBM's DirectTalk call center platform and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for the Web.

The product initially will ship for U.S. English with additional languages and platforms other than Windows NT available by year's end.

-- IBM ViaVoice Dictation for Linux, which will allow users to dictate and read documents using natural human speech. It is available through Shop IBM at http://commerce.www.ibm.com/ and is priced at $59.95.

-- IBM Embedded ViaVoice Multiplatform Edition, which is a Java standards compliant toolkit, allowing developers to write speech-enabled software for use on mobile devices. Software development and runtime kits are available at http://www.ibm.com/software.voice/ with fees based on how companies implement the software.

-- IBM CallPath Enterprise Foundation Version 6.3, which integrates Siebel Systems Inc.'s e-commerce applications for telephony and the Internet. The software lets call-center operators integrate incoming telephone calls and Internet transactions. The price of the IBM software is based on the number of seats and users.

-- IBM DirectTalk Speech Recognition for AIX, which includes ViaVoice Technology and is designed to enable a more natural user interface between voice and keypad use for voice processing platforms. Callers are able to speak their requests and interact with a software application so that telephone business transactions become easier and more natural. The product supports U.S. and U.K. English, French and German and is priced by vocabulary size and implementation.

-- IBM DirectTalk Text-to-Speech for AIX with ViaVoice Technology, which converts text to speech for call centers so that pre-recorded prompts are unnecessary. The product is available for U.S. and U.K. English, French and German, with pricing based on how the product is implemented.

-- IBM DirectTalk Beans for Java, which allows call-center applications to be developed in Java for building Internet applications. The DirectTalk Beans for Java product ships at no extra cost with DirectTalk.

Besides the products, IBM also said it has entered partnerships with Siebel, General Magic Inc., and Luminant Worldwide Corp. to develop a new voice technology infrastructure.

IBM, in Armonk, New York, can be reached at +1-914-499-1900 or http://www.ibm.com/.

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