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Do Your Homework Before Deciding to Speech-enable

But before constructing a voice interface to your Web site, you should do some sleuthing to determine whether speech will be useful for your applications:

  1. Telephone some voice Web sites, and listen to their voice user interfaces. Here are some telephone numbers of interesting voice applications you can call for free.

    Name

    Phone number

    URL

    Tell Me

    1-866-TELLME-1

    http://www.tellme.com/

    Audiopoint

    1–888–38–AUDIO (1-888-382-8346)

    http://www.myaudiopoint.com/index.html

    BeVocal

    1-800-4-BVOCAL

    http://www.bevocal.com/index.html

    Hey Anita

    1-800-hey-anita

    http://www.heyanita.com/voiceportal/voiceportal.asp

    Nuance

    1-888-NUANCE-8 or 1-650-847-7656

    http://www.nuance.com/demos/demos.html


  2. Try your hand at developing a simple voice interface by using one of these online VoiceXML tools.

    Name

    URL

    BeVocal Café

    www.bevocal.com

    Hey Anita FreeSpeech

    www.heyanita.com

    TellMe Studio

    www.tellme.com

    VoiceGenie Developer Workshop

    www.voicegenie.com

    Voxeo Community

    www.voxeo.com


  3. Or download one of these software development kits and develop a voice interface on your own PC.

    Name

    URL

    IBM WebSphere Voice Server SDK

    ibm.com/software/voice

    TurboVoiceXML

    www.netvoicetele.com

    Nuance

    http://www.nuance.com/products/vbuilder.html


  4. Microsoft has released a beta version of the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) (www.saltforum.org) that you can download and experiment with.

  5. Determine whether a voice interface will actually improve relationships with your customers and improve sales. There are a variety of techniques to test the effect of voice user interfaces. With one popular technique, called a Wizard of Oz experiment, the developer pretends to speak to the caller on behalf of the computer, and records the caller's responses. Not only is this an effective tool for designing dialogs, but post surveys also give indications of what callers think and feel about speaking and listening to a computer. Other techniques include demonstrating a voice user interface to a focus group and listening to their comments.

  6. Get your feet wet by prototyping a noncritical application and actually measure its impact on selected users.

After you have finished your investigation, you will be ready to make an informed decision about enabling your Web site.

NOTE

For additional suggestions on how to improve the quality and experience of using telephony applications, see the author's book, VoiceXML: An Introduction to Building Speech Applications (Prentice Hall, 2002, ISBN: 0130092622).

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