Nuance Revs Speech Platform with Developer Tools

The speech vendor launches Nuance Voice Platform 3.0 with a new developer environment and plans Linux support as it prepares for a hotter speech market.

Nuance Communications Inc. on Tuesday launched the next major release of its speech recognition and application platform, one week ahead of a major speech conference expected to herald a competitive turning point in the industry.

Nuance released Nuance Voice Platform 3.0, which includes expanded speech application development tools and incorporates a revamped speech-recognition engine. Nuance, of Menlo Park, Calif., also is adding support for Linux in the platform in the second quarter of this year.

The update to Nuances software for creating, deploying and running speech applications comes ahead of the AVIOS SpeechTek Spring 2004 conference next week in San Francisco, where Microsoft Corp. plans to officially enter the speech market with its Speech Server launch.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about trends in the speech-recognition market from the fall SpeechTek conference.

"The speech market is coming of age," said John Froman, a Nuance senior product marketing manager.

Nuance, like other major speech technology leaders, is preparing to demonstrate that its speech offerings are more advanced and more tailored to enterprise demands. To that end, Nuance is touting its Voice Platform 3.0s developer focus.

The new release includes the introduction of the Nuance Application Environment, which comprises both a graphical, drop-and-drag application development tool called V-Builder and a run-time environment called V-Server. The tools, by automating parts of development process such as code generation, can reduce development costs by 30 percent, Froman said.

"Were providing the tools and making it easy for partners and customers to take on more of the speech application design and development and the ongoing maintenance," Froman said.

Besides offering development tools, the Nuance Voice Platform, first introduced four years ago, brings together a server for speech recognition, text-to-speech conversion and speech verification with a gateway for integrating into telephony servers. It also includes management and reporting tools.

The new version supports the latest Nuance 8.5 speech-recognition engine and Nuance Verifier 3.5 speech verification engine, both released in February.

Nuance Voice Platform 3.0 supports touch-tone commands along with VoiceXML 2.0, which on Tuesday became a World Wide Web Consortium voice interaction standard. VoiceXML is one of two competing speech standards. Among the backers for the other, Speech Application Language Tags (SALT), is Microsoft.

Nuance Voice Platform 3.0 supports both Microsoft Windows and Sun Microsystems Inc.s SPARC Solaris operating systems. The upcoming Linux support will be for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0, Froman said. Typical pricing runs between $1,800 per port to $3,200 per port and depends on the functionality required.

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