PISCATAWAY, N.J., Dec. 6, 2005 — The VoiceXML Forum today announced its support for the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) decision to include speaker identification and verification (SIV) in the next version of the Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML). VoiceXML is a markup language for creating voice user interfaces that use automatic speech recognition and text-to-speech synthesis and became a recognized Web standard in March, 2004. The decision to include SIV in VoiceXML 3.0, the next version of the standard, was the result of cooperation between the VoiceXML Forum’s Speaker Biometrics Committee and the W3C, the standards organization responsible for the technological evolution of VoiceXML and related speech technologies.

“Secure access to protected data is a necessity in today’s business climate, and the industry has rallied around speaker biometric technologies to address this critical corporate concern for telephone-based applications,” said Ken Rehor, newly elected chairman of the VoiceXML Forum and co-chair of the VoiceXML Forum’s Speaker Biometrics Committee. “SIV is not only the best biometric technology for securing telephone transactions and communications, but, in combination with VoiceXML, it will form the basis of next-generation voice applications. We applaud the W3C’s decision to extend VoiceXML 3.0 to include SIV.”

In August, 2005, the VoiceXML Forum chartered the Speaker Biometrics Committee. Committee co-chairs Ken Rehor, chief architect at Vocalocity, and Judith Markowitz, industry analyst and renowned expert in the field of speaker biometrics, championed the effort to develop a detailed set of business and technical requirements for SIV capabilities in VoiceXML-based systems. These requirements were delivered to the W3C’s Voice Browser Working Group in September, 2005 and can be viewed at https://voicexml.org/resources/biometrics.html. The Voice Browser Working Group is using these requirements to guide the development of VoiceXML 3.0 to include SIV.

In addition to developing these requirements, the VoiceXML Forum’s Speaker Biometrics Committee will review existing platform-specific implementations of speaker biometrics extensions to VoiceXML, develop a standard transaction format for exchanging SIV information, identify use cases for voice-only and multimodal applications and develop best practices for user interface design and application architectures. The Committee will also establish a formal certification program, as the VoiceXML Forum did with the VoiceXML 2.0 Platform Certification Program. Representatives from Authentify, Daon, Diaphonics, IBM, iBiometrics, Intel, Loquendo, Nuance, Persay, T-Systems and Vocalocity actively participate in the Committee. Companies interested in joining the Speaker Biometrics Committee should contact the VoiceXML Forum at membership@voicexml.org. Later this month, Judith Markowitz will represent the VoiceXML Forum’s Speaker Biometrics Committee at a face-to-face meeting of the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) INCITS Technical Committee M1, Biometrics, as part of establishing a liaison relationship with ANSI and collaborating on the creation of a standard file format for SIV data exchange.

“The contributions from the VoiceXML Forum have formed the basis of much of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group’s work,” according to James A. Larson, co-chair of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group. “First with the VoiceXML Forum’s contribution of VoiceXML 1.0 which the W3C evolved into VoiceXML 2.0 and 2.1, and now with the SIV requirements, which we plan to evolve into additional syntax for VoiceXML 3.0.”

The VoiceXML Forum and the W3C: A History of Cooperation

Since 1999, when the VoiceXML Forum was founded, it has maintained a strong, cooperative relationship with the W3C. In May, 2000, the VoiceXML Forum submitted VoiceXML Version 1.0 to the W3C’s Voice Browser Working Group, which agreed to adopt it as the basis for the development of a W3C dialog markup language. In October, 2001, the Forum and the W3C signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which paved the way for both organizations to focus on various aspects of VoiceXML. Since that time, the W3C has led the technical development and evolution of VoiceXML, while the VoiceXML Forum has served as an educational and technical resource, a developer certification authority and a contributor and liaison to the W3C. The success of the relationship between the VoiceXML Forum and the W3C is reflected in the widespread adoption of VoiceXML-based applications: hundreds of millions of calls each day are handled by more than 10,000 of these applications around the world.

About the VoiceXML Forum

Founded in 1999, the VoiceXML Forum is an industry organization whose mission is to promote and to accelerate the worldwide adoption of VoiceXML-based applications.  To this end, the Forum serves as an educational and technical resource, a certification authority and a contributor and liaison to the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) and other standards organizations.

The VoiceXML Forum is organized as a program of the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO).  Membership in the Forum is open to any interested company.  For more information, please visit the Website at www.voicexml.org.

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