In an effort to easily voice-enable existing Web services, six companies announced Monday that they had formed the Speech Application Language Tags Forum. Cisco Systems, Comverse, Intel, Microsoft, Philips Electronics and SpeechWorks International are working together to build a royalty-free, platform-independent standard with which developers can extend applications written in HTML, xHTML and XML to be voice-accessible.
SALT-based applications will allow end users to access and navigate through applications in a variety of ways, including by voice command, as well as by using a keyboard, a mouse or a stylus. "Instead of a Web site just being accessible from a PC, its also accessible by voice communication over a standard telephone or a handheld computer or a PDA," said Kevin Wiant, Comverses vice president of business development.
Wiant said he expects to see a significant number of applications become speech-enabled because, with SALT, developers can embed speech enhancements into existing HTML, xHTML and XML pages, using tools with which they are already familiar.
The Forum founders believe that SALT will also allow enterprises to become more efficient by consolidating existing speech and Web-based applications.
The goal of the group is to make the specification publicly available in the first quarter of next year and to submit it to standards bodies in the middle of the year. The Forum hopes that other contributors will also join the effort.