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VoiceXML Planet Conference & Expo: Sneak Preview

  • September 14, 2002
  • By Hitesh Seth
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Builton the success that we had in the spring event which was held in San Jose(March 20-22), I am pleased to present you with a sneak preview of theupcoming VoiceXML Planet Conference & Expo, Fall 2002. The conference willbe held at the Omni Parker House, Boston (MA) on September 26-27. The onlyfocused event around VoiceXML, VoiceXML Planet Conference & Expo attempts to bridge the technology and community gaps between the web and telephony infrastructures and implementation teams. Additionally, the conference will provide clear, concise and accurate information about the current state of VoiceXML including vendor analysis, technologies and standards.

Day 1 (September 26)

The first day begins with a keynote "The Road Ahead" from StuartPatterson. He will provide an industry update around the different technologiesthat make up the world of interactive speech application development and providean insight of how different companies are successfully utilizing speechtechnologies today. 

The rest of the sessions of the first day of the conference are divided into twotracks: the technical track and the business track

The Technical Track

As an enabler for speech applications development, VoiceXML is a relativelysimple standard. The underlying technologies around speechapplications--TTS, ASR, VoIP, SIP, telephony hardware interfacing etc.--arerelatively quite complex however. Speech Technology Core Concepts, the first session inthe technical track, attempts to bridge this gap by providing the developers ofVoiceXML application with facts about the various speech technologies.

The technical track would definitely be incomplete without an in-depthtechnical overview session, which happens to be the next session in the track. Everyone is curious to find out what is really inside SALT (Speech Application Language Tagsspecification). SALT focuses on adding speech/telephony to web-basedapplications and turning them into multimodal applications. The"Introduction to SALT" session will provide the much-needed technicaldetails of SALT and also help developers to understand how it compares and fits in with VoiceXML.

Speaking of new standards, another standard that has been the topic of manyconversations and articles around speech applications is the Call Control eXtensibleMarkup Language, popularly known as CCXML. CCXML is an XML-based markuplanguage that provides rich telephony call-control capabilities to theconversational dialogs provided by VoiceXML. If you are interested in addingtelephony capabilities beyond the <transfer> element in your VoiceXMLapplication, you probably wouldn't want to miss "The Integrating CallCenters with VoiceXML Applications: CCXML" session.

Speech is good; However, "Multimodal" is the killer app. Multimodalapplications are application scenarios where speech is just one of the possibleuser interaction mechanisms along with a display device, pointing device,keyboard, etc. To give you an image of what multimodal is, imagine using a wirelessdevice (a cell phone or a palm device), but instead of using the stylus or thetiny keyboards, you are using speech as the input mechanism. VoiceXML has been traditionally utilized around telephony-based applications. The "VoiceXML and Multimodal Development" session will provide an update on the challenges that areinvolved in delivering multi-modal applications using VoiceXML and also providesan update on the related standardization initiatives.

We will conclude the technical track with a quick roundup of the VoiceXMLapplication development tools and software development kits (SDKs) that areavailable to aid development and testing of VoiceXML-based components andapplications.

The Business Track

The Business Track starts with the two part "VoiceXML for Manager"session. If you are tech-savvy business manager making decisions aroundtechnologies associated with your IVR Systems and call-centers, don't miss thissession if you'd like to be able to go back and start coding VoiceXML. Seriously speaking, the objective of the VoiceXML for Manager session is to highlight the best practices around VoiceXML-based applications. We will arm you with the know-how formanaging customer expectations and your own internal development teams. The sessionswill also provide an international perspective of how VoiceXML has beenutilized around the world. If after learning this in-depth knowledge aboutVoiceXML you end-up coding your own VoiceXML application, don't say you weren'twarned.

Now that the VoiceXML for Managers session has given you enough of an introductionto VoiceXML, let's move on and understand the business benefits of using thetechnology. We will do just that in the Evaluating Business Benefits of VoiceXMLsession which is followed by the "Opportunities for VoiceXML" panel.The group of experts in the panel will identify the potential growth sectorsfor hardware and software vendors, systems integrators and service providersaround VoiceXML-based technologies and applications.

While VoiceXML has started to gain a foothold with IVR/call-centerapplications, it is still a relatively young standard. We will identify thechallenges for mainstream adoption of VoiceXML in the following expertpanel.

Being an open standard, VoiceXML has made flexible modelsfor development and deployment possible. Once you are ready to deploy VoiceXMLapplications, a number of options are available. Whereas it is definitelypossible to buy the entire suite of speech recognition and telephonyinfrastructure in-house if you had the investment capability; it is alsopossible to lease the whole infrastructure, including the telephony lines andintegration to an outsourced service provider. The "Selecting a VoiceXMLPlatform" session will provide the necessary facts that you should keep inmind when making the crucial deployment platform decision.

Day-1 at a glance

Please refer to the conferencewebsite for any additional information regarding the varioussessions/speakers. The table below provides a synopsis for the first day.

Keynote: Stuart Patterson

Speech Fundamentals VoiceXML for Managers
VoiceXML Technical Overview
SALT Business Benefits
CCXML Opportunities - Expert Panel
Multimodal Development Challenges for Mainstream Adoption  - Expert Panel
Development Tools Selecting a VoiceXML Platform

I forgot to mention the most important event of the first day--thenetworking reception. Seriously, a focused event such as this one provides aunique opportunity to network with the business/technology professionals aroundthe world of speech applications. Have fun but also put together some business deals!

To be Continued

Next week, we will continue our Sneak Preview of the VoiceXML Planet Conference& Expo, and we'll discuss the various sessions on the second day of theconference.


About Hitesh Seth

A freelance author and known speaker, Hitesh is a columnist on VoiceXML technology in XML Journal and other technology publications including Java Developers Journal, Web Services Journal and The Computer Bulletin on emerging technology topics such as J2EE, Microsoft .NET, XML, Wireless Computing, Speech Applications, Web Services & Enterprise/B2B Integration. He is the conference chair for VoiceXMLPlanet Conference & Expo. Hitesh received his Bachelors Degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK), India. Feel free to email any comments or suggestions about the articles featured in this column at hks@hiteshseth.com.

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