February 27, 2001, 3:58 PM —
Last time, I suggested that voice-activated access to the Internet and corporate applications could boost the utility of wireless technology for mobile users. There is some activity happening to enable these capabilities, including efforts by the Voice XML Forum, which I described last time. Among the other activities:
* The World Wide Web Consortium is working to build voice browsers that allow people to access the Web using speech synthesis, prerecorded audio and speech recognition. The group says it is working, in part, to help users escape the physical limitations of keypads and displays as mobile devices grow smaller. The consortium also reasons that far more people today have access to a telephone than have access to a computer with an Internet connection, particularly now that mobile phones are ubiquitous, so voice browsers seem a natural.
* Start-up AnyDevice Inc. is one of the few mobile development platform companies that incorporates a voice server into its suite of capabilities. The server enables the development and support of VoiceXML applications, a text-to-speech synthesizer and speech recognition tools so that anyone with a telephone can access any content or application enabled on the platform. The voice server also enables interoperability across the WAN from mobile phones to the corporate PBX, according to Senior Vice President Tom Briones.
But what about the quality of voice access to corporate applications today? Renowned wireless guru Andy Seybold wrote in a recent column that " voice recognition technology is not yet user-proof, though it is getting better . It can sometimes be frustrating to interact with - especially when background noise is picked up by the phones mouthpiece. While much of the technology for voice functionality is fairly mature, it requires more processing power than is currently available in a handset. "
Translation: Getting there but not quite ready for prime time.