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SpeechWorks Unveils VoiceXML-Based Speech App

SpeechWorks unveils speech-recognition engine that's based on VoiceXML.
SpeechWorks International Inc. took a risk when it decided to build a speech-recognition engine based on VoiceXML, an open voice standard, and allow developers to host speech applications on Web servers instead of proprietary hardware they once had to buy from SpeechWorks.

"We're talking about opening up our product and letting people swap in and out," says Steve Chambers, VP of marketing at the speech-recognition company. "People want to buy a technology that doesn't lock them down, because with this economy people got burned on technology that was closed last year."

SpeechWorks' first VoiceXML-based product, OpenSpeech Recognizer 1.0, comes with a set of pre-packaged DialogModules, or software code, which is designed to help developers' speed up the application development process. A developer doesn't want to spend time on routine development such as writing code for commonly spoken phrases, says Giga Information Group director Elizabeth Herrell. "Improving accuracy and usability of their software will encourage developers to use their product."

SpeechWorks also integrated a new algorithm from AT&T into OpenSpeech Recognizer, which increases the number of words the speech application can store in its memory and speeds up the time it takes a speech-recognition engine to download grammar and vocabulary. AT&T purchased an equity stake in the company last year, which gave SpeechWorks access to AT&T's finite state transducer algorithm.

VoiceGenie Technologies, a Canadian voice-recognition company is integrating SpeechWorks' DialogModules and OpenSpeech Recognizer into its product set, which will allow its customers to access Web information, conduct online transactions, and manage E-mail by using voice commands. Although mobile phone use is growing, not everyone has access to their phones' wireless Web capabilities, says Giga's Herrell. "Building a standard that will allow you to surf the Web by voice instead of with a PC will begin to take off as the demand for wireless phones ignites the demand for speech applications."