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by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Letting your e-mail ‘speak’ for itself

Opinion
May 12, 20032 mins
Networking

* Voice XML provides a standard for Web interaction with voice systems

At the end of last month, we introduced you to unified messaging. This week, we’d like to focus on two technologies that make implementation of unified messaging easier and more open for developers: Voice XML and Speech Application Language Tags (SALT).  Today, we’ll cover Voice XML. 

VXML is part of the XML family of standards from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).  The W3C provides for the Web’s common protocols including – among others – HTML, XML, and VXML, promoting their evolution and interoperability (see below for links to more information about W3C.)  XML was specifically designed for ease of implementation. 

VXML was designed so that content developed for the Web could interact with voice systems, allowing network users to “speak” to applications using their native voice or DMTF (touch-tone) responses, and for application to reply using either pre-recorded or computer synthesized speech.  This allows a “dialog” between humans and computer applications. 

Before VXML, unified messaging was still possible, but to integrate an application that “read” the user’s e-mail or fax title was based on proprietary speech recognition techniques embedded in an interactive voice response (IVR) system.  Each technique had to be integrated with a similar proprietary interface from the communication systems vendors. 

With open standards like VXML, implementing different vendor’s components for fax, voice, and e-mail becomes much easier since most of the major speech recognition and IVR vendors (like SpeechWorks, Nuance, and TellMe), and voice system suppliers (like Avaya and Siemens), have agreed on and implemented VXML. 

Next time, we’ll discuss SALT.