SALT talks bring speech closer

Today at the Telephony Voice User Interface conference, Microsoft and SpeechWorks announced a strategic alliance aimed at fostering widespread use of speech technologies.

The alliance will make speech technologies from SpeechWorks and Microsoft available to developers, making it easier for them to build speech-enabled Web applications and services.

The technologies to be developed will be based on the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specification, which enables users to access these applications via the telephone and devices such as cellular phones, wireless PDAs as well as new technologies such as the Tablet PC.

Under the terms of the agreement, SpeechWorks will become a designated ISV and marketing and professional services partner for the upcoming Microsoft .NET speech platform. In addition to Microsoft’s internally developed speech technologies that will ship standard with the platform, SpeechWorks will configure its speech technologies to support the SALT specification and integrate them with the Microsoft speech platform.

The alliance also will give developers access to a number of SpeechWorks technologies, including SpeechWorks’ Speechify TTS engine.

Speechify produces natural-sounding speech in multiple voices, in a variety of languages. Microsoft licensed Speechify in April 2001 and now has extended that license to the new speech platform.

SpeechWorks also will add support for the latest version of the Microsoft Speech Application Programming Interface, SAPI 5.1, to its OpenSpeech Recognizer and Speechify engines and will initially port eight OpenSpeech DialogModules to be compliant with the Microsoft platform, including OpenSpeech DialogModules for managing dates, times, ‘yes/no,’ digit strings, phone numbers, alpha numeric strings, item lists and custom contexts.

OpenSpeech DialogModules are reusable software building blocks that assist developers in delivering a user interface for speech-enabled applications.