Standards Group Eyes Web Pages That Talk, Listen

A new group at the World Wide Web Consortium is exploring the possibility that in the near future, Web browsers could read pages aloud or permit users to complete online forms via voice commands.

The W3C's new HTML Speech Incubator Group is studying the feasibility of developing a standard Web interface for both voice recognition and speech synthesis, said group chairman Dan Burnett, who is also director of speech technologies and standards at Voxeo Corp.

The incubator group will file a report in one year assessing the feasibility of adding speech input and output features to HTML5, the standard for rendering Web pages.

AT&T, Google, Microsoft and the Mozilla Foundation, among others, all have engineers participating in this effort.

Burnett noted that while the report would analyze the feasibility of integrating speech with HTML5, the work of developing the interfaces themselves would be handled by another W3C unit, such as the HTML Working Group.

Already, the human voice and the Web aren't strangers: Google includes a voice-based Web search app in its Android smartphone operating system, and Microsoft promises robust voice-driven features in its upcoming Windows Phone 7.

This story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from a version that appeared earlier on

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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