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Viewing telephone speech recognition as simply expanding the Internet to wireless telephones underestimates its power. Telephone speech recognition provides benefits that can be superior to Web browsers. For example, services that are easier to use over the telephone include quick access of information such as weather, instantly buying something in response to a print or broadcast ad, or more effectively managing your voice calls.

Given the fact that more people use a cell phone than a wireless notebook computer, businesses can offer additional services to phone users by developing Web pages that use VoiceXML. Still, businesses need to remember that even though some things are best handled by voice, others need a visual interface. Smart businesses understand these differences and take advantage of them by combining the power of both options when possible.

Voice gateway providers
Are you ready for some voice-enabled development tools that use a Web-based interface? The following companies offer “voice gateways” that can access VoiceXML content from Web sites and then present that information to an end user via a voice interface. These companies offer a no-cost opportunity to try tools and platforms that write, parse, compile, and debug code.

The BeVocal Café is a voice development site that provides a VoiceXML 1.0 interpreter written entirely in Java with a library of grammar and prerecorded audio files that include a listing of U.S. street addresses.

Tellme Studio allows anyone to develop his or her own voice applications and access them over the phone just by providing a URL to your content. The Tellme Networks voice service is built entirely with VoiceXML. Call 1-800-555-TELL to try this service.

The HeyAnita FreeSpeech Developer Network is a powerful open platform designed to offer developers flexibility and ease of use. You’ll need to register to be able to use the online interface to develop VoiceXML applications, check their syntax, test them, and see a real-time stream of debug information straight from the telephone server. In addition to Web-based applications, FreeSpeech also offers downloadable tools to help you develop locally on your own machine using the Microsoft Speech Application Program Interface.

You can also download Motorola’s Mobile Application Development Toolkit, a free software development kit that supports VoiceXML 1.0 (as well as WML and VoxML). Registration for a free membership is required.

Finally, anyone who has viewed an OnStar commercial (the ones with Batman driving around in the Batmobile) has been exposed to VoiceXML technology. OnStar is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors. As of mid-2001, OnStar had 1.2 million active subscribers. OnStar turned to General Magic to build its Virtual Advisor application on its magicTalk platform. General Magic is a leading voice infrastructure company that provides enterprise-grade software and supporting voice dialog design and hosting services. They enable companies to quickly and efficiently provide anytime, anywhere access to information and services over the telephone.