Osborne: Standards Key to Multimodal Adoption

A common standard for developing multimodal applications is closer than ever, says IBM executive Ozzie Osborne.

A common standard for developing multimodal applications—those that combine speech, text and graphics—is closer than ever, according to IBM Corp. executive Ozzie Osborne.

Osborne, an IBM vice president and segment manager of Big Blues Pervasive Computing group, delivered the opening keynote at the Friday session of the VoiceXML Planet Conference and Expo in Boston. He praised the SALT Forum, an industry group backing a multimodal development technology that uses speech application language tags for joining the Multimodal Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

IBM is not a member of the group but belongs to a different industry alliance that favors a combination of VoiceXML and XHTML to develop multimodal applications, the so-called X+V group. The two groups, which have feuded in the past, are now contributing to the W3Cs Multimodal Working Group, currently meeting in Finland.

"Im pleased to say were now working together, trying to come to a single standard for multimodal applications," said Osborne in his keynote.

After the speech Osborne noted the groups were not that far apart in their approaches, though some differences remain.

"There are some good similarities," he said. "Theyre both based on XHTML."

But he also noted that there were differences, such as SALT not supporting standalone voice applications for things like call flow and telephony as X+V does. He also said that SALT, which would add speech tags to existing markup languages, would require changes in applications business logic that X+V doesnt require.

"I think the differences are solvable," said Osborne. "And well solve them in the optimum manner as opposed to compromising and causing harm.

"A single standard will grow the industry."