VoiceXML Forum Grant Program – Successful Progress for Both Projects


PISCATAWAY, 31, MAY 2022 – In March of 2021, the VoiceXML Forum, a global industry trade

organization chartered to promote and accelerate the adoption of VoiceXML-based applications awarded two $25,000 grants to worthy recipients.

Today we are pleased to announce the progress of both, Drexel University’s Jina Huh-Yoo’s “Conversational Agent for the Caregivers of Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Related Dementia Patients.” And Sorbonne University’s Catherine Pelachaud and Nicholas Obin’s “Virtual Expressive Agent.”

“The VoiceXML Forum Grant Program has carried forward the spirit of its original mission by issuing two $25,000 grants annually to researchers at non-profit institutions developing new voice technologies or standards,” Paulo Baggia of Nuance said. “Research by the 2021 grant recipients includes the design of conversational agents to support caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, and to enhance the quality of human-machine voice interactions. These examples clearly illustrate the lasting relevance and importance of the VoiceXML Forum’s mission.”

Jina Huh-Yoo notes “VoiceXML Forum Grant has allowed us to explore and test possibilities for using highly accessible, phone-based conversational agents that can help with caregivers of patients with dementia. We collaborated with experts (WeCare Advisors) who support the caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) through the WeCare program at the College of Nursing and Professions at Drexel University. We developed and tested the prototypes of automating WeCare Advisors’ work of conversing with caregivers over the phone to support the caregiving process. We found where automation can help and where it might be limited. Through this pilot work, the grant helped us to plan the next steps in identifying novel ways to support advisors’ work and the caregiving process. We will continue the work by further developing ways to record and annotate conversations among the stakeholders of individuals with ADRD using the conversational agent technology.”

Catherine Pelachaud and Nicolas Obin state, “As a part of an on-going collaboration between the Science and Technology of Sound and Music lab (STMS lab – Ircam, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Ministère de la Culture) and the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR – CNRS, Sorbonne Université), the VoiceXML Forum grant has allowed us to enhance the acoustic and visual expressivity of virtual agents controlled by the GRETA platform. We have developed models to generate expressive speech synthesis and agent animation driven by speech. The VoiceXML tags are added to the text to be said by the agent. They are sent to speech synthesizers as well as to the GRETA platform. In particular the focus is on paralinguistic fillers.”

To read more detailed progress of their work, please visit www.voicexml.org

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. The Forum served as an educational and technical resource, a certification authority and a contributor and liaison to international standards bodies.  The VoiceXML Forum is organized as a program of the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO). The Forum dissolves May 2022 after successfully achieving its mission.


Please send all media inquiries to Katherine.valenti@ieee-isto.org