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1st Quarter
2002


VoiceXML 2.0 Makes Some Noise

BY RICH TEHRANI

VoiceXML is alive and kicking. Well, at least in the opinion of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C, www.w3c.org), which signed a memorandum of understanding with the VoiceXML Forum (www.voicexml.org), enabling each organization to work on different parts of the VoiceXML standard while maintaining a close relationship. The memorandum coincides with the W3C release of the first public working draft of VoiceXML 2.0.

I wrote about the emergence of VoiceXML in this very column nearly a year ago, and even drafted a program (with the help of Tellme, www.tellme.com) allowing users to access conference sessions residing on the Web through a toll-free number. Very simply, the VoiceXML markup language allows voice access and interaction with content residing on the Web, or anywhere else. VoiceXML 2.0 is designed to offer Web-based development and content delivery functionality for interactive voice response (IVR) applications. The latest version of the language enables the creation of audio dialogs for offering synthesized speech, recognition of spoken and DTMF key input, digitized audio, and the recording of telephony, spoken input, and mixed-initiative conversations.

This time around I spoke with VoiceGenie (www.voicegenie.com) about their upgrade to Version 2.0 of the VoiceXML standard, and with their help I was able to create a program that enables access to information on conferences at our upcoming Internet Telephony Conference & Expo Miami (www.itexpo.com). See Figure 1 for an explanation of the markup language.

VOICEGENIE
In tandem with the release of VoiceXML 2.0, VoiceGenie Technologies announced the latest version of its voice Web platform, VoiceGenie VoiceXML Gateway 5.0, with full support of VoiceXML 2.0. The gateway offers new features like call control, E1 support, platform pooling, and higher density call throughput. The VoiceGenie Platform Pool Manager offers the ability to manage hierarchical clusters of gateways, using a Web browser to monitor status, upgrade configurations and software installations, and perform maintenance tasks.

GETVOCAL
GetVocal (www.getvocal.com, a division of Digital Voice Technologies) announced the VoiceXML 2.0-compliant PowerDialer, an auto/predictive dialer platform that runs on Windows 2000. Administrators can set up a dial campaign graphically through the GetVocal SDK, allowing quick creation of a VoiceXML script which executes when it receives a live answer. Features include a phone line wizard for setting up the application to run on analog lines attached to telco circuits or a PBX, or digital lines. A line monitor enables the system administrator to launch desired lines, select VoiceXML scripts, view dialer statistics, refresh dial results, and configure the dial campaign.

PIPEBEACH
The multi-lingual, carrier-class VoiceXML platform speechWeb, from Pipebeach (www.pipebeach.com), also supports the latest version of the VoiceXML standard. speechWeb enables voice applications like voice portals, automated call centers, and e-mail readers to be accessed through any telephone, integrating speech recognition and speech synthesis technologies.

TELERA
Voice Web platform provider Telera (www.telera.com) also announced endorsement of VoiceXML 2.0. The company's DeVXchange developer community offers resources for quick and easy development of business-centric voice applications running on Telera's Voice Web Application Platform.

TELLME
Tellme Networks (www.tellme.com) supports VoiceXML 2.0 in its Voice Application Network, which hosts carrier-grade, Web-based application delivering advanced voice services. Enterprises may offer a more personalized caller experience, automate their calls, and reduce telecom infrastructure costs using the network. The company also offers a VoiceXML 2.0 developer community, available at studio.tellme.com.

BEVOCAL
Voice platform and application provider BeVocal (www.bevocal.com) is also supporting VoiceXML 2.0 through the BeVocal Foundation Platform. The voice platform lets carriers create and deliver services like voice portals, voice activated dialing, and voice messaging applications. The company also offers the BeVocal Caf (cafe.bevocal.com) Web-based developer environment, offering support for voiceprint verification, pre-tuned grammars, professional audio, utility functions for location-based services, local and remotely loaded Java-based objects, and usability testing and debugging of applications.

HEYANITA
HeyAnita (www.heyanita.com) is a W3C partner and a member of the VoiceXML Forum. The company offers the FreeSpeech Platform for development of applications, as well as the FreeSpeech VoiceXML Browser, an interpreter that may be used on the HeyAnita telephony network, or can sit remotely in a client's desired location. Beta versions of the platform and browser are compliant with VoiceXML 2.0, and HeyAnita is waiting for the language to be ratified (expected sometime in January or February). The company plans to roll out generally available versions of it's 2.0 products within 30 to 45 days of ratification.

VERASCAPE
Verascape (www.verascape.com) has released its VeraServ development platform, based on VoiceXML 2.0. The platform ships with text-to-speech (TTS) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology, as well as a VoiceXML interpreter from Motorola (www.motorola.com).

[ Return To The 1st Quarter 2002 Table Of Contents ]


Figure 1. Markup Language

With the help of VoiceGenie, I've come up with the following sample of VoiceXML 2.0 code. The code enables access to conference descriptions and schedules for our upcoming Internet Telephony Conference & Expo. After being prompted for a time of day, the code matches callers with the conference session closest to that time, and provides them with a start time and a description of the session.

To try a live demonstration of the code, call 888-226-4850.

<?xml version = "1.0"?>
<vxml version = "1.0">
<meta name = "author" content = "Rich Tehrani" />
<property name = "ASRENGINE" value = "SPEECHWORKS" />
<property name = "loglevel" value = "3" />
<property name = "caching" value = "safe" />
<property name = "confidencelevel" value = "0.7" />
<var expr = "0" name = "nextState" />
<form id = "gettime" cleardtmf = "false">
<subdialog src = "http://mordred.voicegenie.com/GA_DM/jsp/time/wrapper.jsp" name =
"speech_1" method = "get">
<param expr = "'ALWAYS'" name = "defaultconfirmation" />
<filled mode = "all">

<!-- 24 hour format, convert it to am pm-->
<if cond = "speech_1.AMPM=='h'">
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR>12">
<assign expr = "speech_1.HOUR-12" name = "speech_1.HOUR" />
<assign expr = "'p'" name = "speech_1.AMPM" />
<else />
<assign expr = "'a'" name = "speech_1.AMPM" />
</if>
</if>
<if cond = "speech_1.AMPM=='a'">
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR<8 || speech_1.HOUR==12">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session1" />
</if>
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR==8 && speech_1.MINUTE<=30">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session1" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==8 && speech_1.MINUTE>30) || (speech_1.HOUR==9 && speech_1.MINUTE<30)">
The current session is
<assign expr = "1" name = "nextState" />
<goto next = "#session1" />
</if>
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR==9 && speech_1.MINUTE<=45">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session2" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==9 && speech_1.MINUTE>45) || (speech_1.HOUR==10 && speech_1.MINUTE<45)">
The current session is
<assign expr = "1" name = "nextState" />
<goto next = "#session2" />
</if>
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR==10 && speech_1.MINUTE>=45">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session3" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==11 && speech_1.MINUTE>=0) || (speech_1.HOUR==11 && speech_1.MINUTE<=59)">
The current session is
<assign expr = "1" name = "nextState" />
<goto next = "#session3" />
</if>
</if>
<!-- in the afternoon -->
<if cond = "speech_1.AMPM=='p'">
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==1 && speech_1.MINUTE<=15) || speech_1.HOUR==12">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session4" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==1 && speech_1.MINUTE>15) || (speech_1.HOUR==2 && speech_1.MINUTE<15)">
The current session is
<assign expr = "1" name = "nextState" />
<goto next = "#session4" />
</if>
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR==2 && speech_1.MINUTE<=30">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session5" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==2 && speech_1.MINUTE>30) || (speech_1.HOUR==3 && speech_1.MINUTE<30)">
The current session is
<assign expr = "1" name = "nextState" />
<goto next = "#session5" />
</if>
<if cond = "speech_1.HOUR==3 && speech_1.MINUTE<=45">
The next session is
<goto next = "#session6" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==3 && speech_1.MINUTE>45) || (speech_1.HOUR==4 && speech_1.MINUTE<45)">
The current and last session is
<goto next = "#session5" />
</if>
<if cond = "(speech_1.HOUR==4 && speech_1.MINUTE>45) || (speech_1.HOUR!=12 && speech_1.HOUR>=5)">
There are no more sessions at this time
</if>
</if>
</filled>
</subdialog>
</form>
<form id = "session1">
<block>

takes place from 8:30am to 9:30am. The topic for this session is Scaling To New Heights: The Role of the Softswitch in Today's Network. Emerging softswitch offerings are taking center stage in the next-gen network due to the promises of overcoming many of the limitations of traditional carrier-based central office gear. Come discover the softswitch advantages of employing industry-standard server hardware and open APIs, and providing service providers the flexibility to rapidly deploy new services in response to subscriber demand. Learn how the distributed architecture of the softswitch model allows service providers to select best-of-breed products, facilitates multivendor integration, and opens up the development of new services and innovation all at a substantially lower cost and reduced footprint.

<if cond = "nextState==1">
<assign expr = "0" name = "nextState" />
the next session after this
<goto next = "#session2" />
<else />
<goto next = "#gettime" />
</if>
</block>
</form>
<form id = "session2">
<block>

takes place from 9:45am to 10:45am. The topic for this session is Service Provider Case Study I. Come to hear true tales of deployment from an intrepid Internet Service Provider who has bitten the bullet to implement next-generation packet and services. Learn and benefit from their experiences. You'll gain insights into the problems they encountered, the mistakes they made and the lessons they learned and in the process avoid costly backtracking, false starts, and delays in your own network strategy. This is truly a can't-miss session for the service provider looking to chart a clear course to the network of the future.

<if cond = "nextState==1">
<assign expr = "0" name = "nextState" />
the next session after this
<goto next = "#session3" />
<else />
<goto next = "#gettime" />
</if>
</block>
</form>
<form id = "session3">
<block>

takes place from 11:00am to 12 p m. The topic for this session is Broadband Build-Out: Deploying Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure. The emergence of myriad new services, new pricing schemes, and untold new users means that the designers of next-generation networks have their jobs cut out for them. And not only will these next-gen switches and routers need to handle increased traffic flow, the packets they handle will represent an ever more diverse flow of information voice, data, video, and more that demands guaranteed levels of service. Network operators are in the midst of a massive build-out of network infrastructure. But beyond simply adding more fat pipes, what is it going to take to achieve broadband nirvana? Come to this session and learn about the challenges and opportunities a broadband makeover represents.

<if cond = "nextState==1">
<assign expr = "0" name = "nextState" />
the next session after this
<goto next = "#session4" />
<else />
<goto next = "#gettime" />
</if>
</block>
</form>
<form id = "session4">
<block>

takes place from 1:15 p m to 2 15 p m. The to pic for this session is Opportunities In The Metro. The pot vendors building equipment for the metro market is huge. In fact it's one of the few areas of the telecom economy that is forecasting significant growth. This session will explore what all the noise is about, separating the facts from the hype. This session will explore a vast array of issues facing the metropolitan network market. We'll investigate technologies such as SONET and Gigabit Ethernet; regulatory issue facing metro carriers; and the coming shakeout as the theory of natural selection plays out among the many vendors vying for leadership positions in this nascent market.

<if cond = "nextState==1">
<assign expr = "0" name = "nextState" />
the next session after this
<goto next = "#session5" />
<else />
<goto next = "#gettime" />
</if>
</block>
</form>
<form id = "session5">
<block>

takes place from 2 30 p m to 3 30 p m. The topic for this session is Migrating From Circuit To Packet: What You Need to Know. End-to-end packet-based telephony, while inevitable, won't happen overnight. Aside from depreciating the investments in legacy circuit switching, it will take some time to work out the kinks of the next-generation network as it evolves. Already vendors and standards bodies are working to ensure interoperability between new and traditional network elements. When you realize the breadth of devices and protocols that must interoperate, it becomes evident that multiple standards will evolve to handle the myriad challenges posed by these disparate network elements. Gatekeepers, gateways, softswitches, application servers, intelligent peripherals, SCPs, directory repositories, PSTN, remote access servers, and more must all work together seamlessly. Learn about the standards that are being designed to enable tighter integration among these disparate elements, and to do so as efficiently as possible.

<if cond = "nextState==1">
<assign expr = "0" name = "nextState" />
the next session after this
<goto next = "#session6" />
<else />
<goto next = "#gettime" />
</if>
</block>
</form>
<form id = "session6">
<block>

takes place from 3 45 p m to 4 45 p m. The topic for this session is Next-Generation Switching On The Edge. A vast array of recent developments such as faster network access, increased use of the Internet, greater proliferation of technology driving greater network usage, etc have placed a tremendous burden on the switching infrastructure deployed at the network's edge. In order to keep pace with the rapid changes and increases in network usage, it becomes necessary to consider alternatives to the existing class of equipment that serves as the point of entry into the carrier's network. Come explore the state of next-generation switching technology, focusing on the needs and requirements of existing infrastructure as well as efficient and scalable provisioning of emerging services. There are no more sessions after this.

<goto next = "#gettime" />
</block>
</form>







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