IBM unveils Speech Markup Language

A markup language that lets Web authors include interactive speech capability in Web pages has been unveiled by IBM today.

The company announced Speech Markup Language (SpeechML), which provides an open framework to add speech capabilities to Web-based applications.

SpeechML is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is a specification for formatting data on Web pages. SpeechML will be considered by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as the standard for speech markup language, according to a statement from IBM.

SpeechML is designed to let a Web site developer use "tags" to add interactive speech capability to his or her Web site without being an expert in speech technology, the statement said. Tags are the way the developer marks certain Web site content as content that is to be spoken by an application, such as reading a menu to a Web site visitor, IBM said.

SpeechML is used in conjunction with a conversational browser, which enables the markup language by interpreting and translating it, IBM said. The conversational browser is technology designed to interpret and translate streams of markup language data coming from many sources, it said. For example, in the middle of the online purchase of an airplane ticket, a user can suspend the purchase and communicate with a banking application on a different server to check an account balance, it said.

SpeechML is available for free download at http://www.alphaWorks.ibm.com/. The download includes guidelines for SpeechML, a conversational browser and a set of demos, IBM said.

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