The march of the web

Motorola has introduced Voice Markup Language (VoxML), a new technology that extends the reach of the Internet by giving users access to online content from any telephone. Applications utilizing VoxML will allow people to access online information, such as personal banking information, weather forecasts, sports scores, stock quotes and internal company information over wireless phones, wireline phones or computers. The difference? They will be able to use voice commands (what used to be called “talking”) to navigate web sites and request specific information.

Several content providers (The Weather Channel, CBS, Traffic Station Group,, and SmartRoute) are already using the new technology to extend the reach of their content services. According to Motorola, these companies have been able to write new voice applications in a matter of days using the new technology.

How will we eventually use this latest toy? Probably not to surf the Net, but rather to get specific information quickly and easily. For example, a voice activated flight status service would save a lot of button pushing on your touch tone phone. You call Air Canada, and s “Is flight 229 from Winnipeg on time?”

The airline’s VoxML application interprets your voice request and translates it to a Web request. The application locates and publishes the requested information in VoxML, which is then translated from text into speech, and delivered back to you in the form of a robot voice, which says, “Yes, it would be, but we are on strike”, or something to that effect.

Some people may not think that this is progress, but the technology does have exciting potential in many other areas, especially in providing access to the Net for disabled people.