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O'Reilly Network: Voice on Your Web Site? Now You're Talking!; CallXML & VoiceXML

Dec 02, 2000, 15:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Paul Ashenfelter)

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"What if I told you there was a way to take your existing web site and make it accessible not only to anyone with a cell phone, but to anyone with a telephone of any sort? What if such a technology was based on open standards? What if you could start developing with this technology right now? Here's a whirlwind look at using CallXML, VoiceXML, and a company called Voxeo to help you access your web application using a plain old telephone."

"Fortunately there are technologies and standards that exist to help enable web telephony (WT) applications. The browser side of a WT application is direct interaction with the user through sound and voice as well as the phone keypad. All the technical magic in this scenario lives on the server-side markup. And to make matters even more interesting, there are at least three different possible server-side "language" choices for WT applications:

  • VoiceXML, an XML standard managed by the VoiceXML forum founded by Lucent, Motorola, IBM, and AT&T. This is specifically geared to building voice-response systems and included voice-recognition technology as well as text-to-speech (tts). It is currently part of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group and will likely morph into the standard for voice browsing.
  • CallXML, an XML standard created by Voxeo that is specifically oriented towards managing phone calls and using touch-tone phones to manipulate web applications. This is simpler than VoiceXML for traditional touch-tone phone applications and is also capable of managing the calls themselves, including transfers and conferencing of other calls.
  • Microsoft WTE, a web telephony engine that ships as part of Windows 2000. This is a COM object that lets you build WT applications and script them in either stand-alone mode or through the Web using a tool such as ASP."

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