Archive for April, 2006

Voice World London 2006 cancelled, eventually

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Two months ago this weblog announced Voice World 2006 which would take place on May 9-10 in London, UK. It now turns out that Terrapin, the event organizer, had already decided to cancel Voice World 2006 as early as September last year. For some reason, however, they forgot to mention this on their original web page – which, by the way, has only recently become inaccessible.

The funny thing is that I still managed to register for this spooky event just two weeks ago. Yesterday, I finally got the following answer to my request for the detailed conference program:

Dear Colleague,

Voice World 2006 is NOT running this year.

The event was cancelled in September 2005 and you should not have been able to
register for it but due to a technical error in some cases this has not been the
case.

If you have received a confirmation from our system please accept our sincere
apologies also for any inconvenience this has caused you,

With apologies and regards

[name removed]

Now I understand why access to the conference part of the event was free in 2006!

Job: Java Developer with VoiceXML knowledge at DB Scape (Waterloo, Belgium)

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

See the Monster job ad.

Voice Developer job (Hindi) at Nuance Belgium

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

See the Linguist List job ad.

Speech platform standardization, consolidation and commoditization full steam ahead

Friday, April 7th, 2006

This week Microsoft has licenced Vocalocity’s VoiceXML technology for use in future versions of its Speech Server product. Interested developers can sign up for a beta version of Speech Server 2007 as of today.

With this move, Microsoft finally recognizes the primary status of VoiceXML, a W3C standard, as the lingua franca for speech enabled phone applications. Speech technology buyers can now focus on development environment capabilities or partner application availabilities without having to make a core language choice (VoiceXML vs. SALT) at the same time. Less uncertainty means faster decisions, so faster market development.

After last year’s merger of Nuance and Scansoft (the latter already including a.o. SpeechWorks, Philips Speech Processing, and Rhetorical Systems), the industry is now witnessing another consolidation: Genesys, an Alcatel company, this week acquired VoiceGenie, a major VoiceXML platform vendor (aka voice portal provider). According to the press release, the takeover is expected to “accelerate the trend away from legacy, proprietary IVRs (interactive voice response) to new Voice XML software standards”.

Apart from the obvious market defragmentation effect, it will be interesting to see the influence of the take-over on the status of Genesys Voice Portal (GVP), which evolved from the Telera acquisition back in 2002. More important for market acceleration, though, is the availability (also in pricing terms) of state-of-the-art development environments. In that respect, the acquisition of VoiceGenie does not add much value; frustrated users of Genesys Studio like myself would have preferred an acquisition of Audium or VoiceObjects, to name just those two. We will see what the future holds.

The boldest move so far this year on the platform commoditization front came from Voxeo. Two months ago they launched Prophecy, which was recently certified as the first 100% compliant VoiceXML 2.0 platform. Prophecy comes with a built-in ASR and TTS server, but also supports external speech servers through its MRCP client. The platform is free (as in free beer) for development purposes.

Standardization, consolidation, and commoditization are the traditional features of a maturing industry.