VoiceXML Specification to Lead at CT Expo

SAN MATEO (03/03/2000) - Vendors will use this week's Computer Telephony (CT) Expo in Los Angeles to showcase new applications and capabilities for voice technologies and call centers.

Highlighting the continuing evolution of the telephony market will be a new standard to ease the development of voice response-based interactions on the Web. Advances in communications servers and speech-telephony software will also be demonstrated.

At CT Expo, the VoiceXML Forum, which was founded in March of last year by AT&T Corp., IBM Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc., and Motorola Inc., is expected to announce that it has completed Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML specification.

The VoiceXML specification was developed in an effort to make XML-based content more accessible via voice commands and phone interfaces. It is also intended to drive new voice-capable devices, appliances, and services. Several companies have already begun developing products based on the preliminary VoiceXML specification.

According to one analyst, the standard may herald a radical change in the way automated telephone services are used.

"[VoiceXML] can support call center-style applications in a way [that allows] people to treat automated telephone services that use speech recognition in a much more flexible way, much like they treat their Web pages," said William Meisel, president of TMA Associates, in Tarzana, Calif.

"If you take the Internet model and extend it to the voice space -- the voice Web -- almost anything in the Internet space could happen over the telephone," Meisel said. "Once you put a good user interface on the telephone, which speech recognition does, then you have the same advantages over the phone as you do on the Web."

The show will also be used as the launchpad for numerous products.

Conita Technologies will roll out its Personal Virtual Assistant Server (PVAServer), which provides remote access to the corporate network through a telephone. Aiming to position the telephone as a voice portal, the PVAServer software is capable of supporting transactions; accessing the Internet, databases, e-mail, voice mail, and faxes; and making conference calls, according to the company.

Locus Dialogue will unveil Version 5.0 of its Liaison speech telephony software product designed to let enterprises speech-enable their telephony systems. A new feature, called Express Messaging, allows the system to be configured for different levels of messaging detail according to user needs.

Toshiba America Information Systems will be on hand to introduce its Strata CS communications server, bringing voice mail and multiline calls to desktops.

Toshiba will also announce the addition of voice recognition capabilities to its Strategy Enterprise Server interactive voice-response product.

Lucent will introduce communications applications aimed at enterprises and service providers that work over both IP networks and PSTNs (public switched telephone networks). The applications are expected to include unified messaging, collaboration tools, personal productivity tools, and informal call centers for small user groups.

Nice Systems at the show is expected to take the wraps off a VOIP (voice over IP) recording technology, which is designed to let call centers record and evaluate customer interactions directly from the LAN.

The VoiceXML Forum is at www.voicexml.org. Conita Technologies Inc., in Columbia, S.C., is at www.conita.com. Locus Dialogue Inc., in Montreal, is at www.locusdialogue.com. Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., in New York, is at www.toshiba.com. Lucent Technologies Inc., in Murray Hill, N.J., is at www.lucent.com. Nice Systems Inc., in Richmond, British Columbia, is at www.nice.com.

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