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IBM Develops Technology To Talk To Web 83

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dr-spaetzo-gets-a-job dept.
ProgramErgoSum writes to tell us that IBM's Indian-based research arm is trying to bring a new dimension to web interaction through voice interaction on your mobile phone. Developing a new protocol, Hyperspeech Transfer Protocol (HSTP), the hope is to allow users to talk to the web and get a response. Without more explanation I'm hoping this goes about as far as the gopher web. "The spoken web is a network of voice sites or interconnected voice and the response the company got in some pilot projects in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat and the kind of innovations that people came up with were just mind-boggling, Gupta said. "
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IBM Develops Technology To Talk To Web

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  • Interesting... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rockNme2349 (1414329)
    but unnecessary. Instead of trying to create a new standard, what's wrong with sending an http request, and receiving an rtp response. Let the device do the text-to-speech conversion, like they do already.

    I just can't imagine an entirely new protocol being adopted when it is already very possible using existing technologies...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Deag (250823)

      The text to speech bit could do with some sort of markup though. Despite the author's guild claim to the contrary, text to speech is very machine like and monotonous, it could do with some tags like <scared> or <angry> to get some emotion going.

      • So what would happen id it hit a blink or marquee tag?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Deag (250823)

          ah easy, blink would be said extremely quickly, whole sentence in one second. Marquee would be a loud street salesman sort of tone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by CarpetShark (865376)

        text to speech is very machine like and monotonous, it could do with some tags like <scared> or <angry> to get some emotion going.

        I believe the tag names, respectively, are going to be <enron> and <balmer>

    • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Informative)

      by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:49PM (#27215463)

      Agreed. Especially since CSS has supported aural media (including multiple voices or generic speaker categories like "child", "male", "female" for different speakers in a story, for instance) for quite a while now.

      • by Deag (250823)

        Ah so it does exist.

        Is this widely used? I will confess to not knowing about it.

        Any example out there?

        • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Informative)

          by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:06PM (#27215699)

          There's a good (and recent) summary of the situation here:

          http://lab.dotjay.co.uk/notes/css/aural-speech/ [dotjay.co.uk]

          If you want an open source solution, you should probably look to the firevox (as opposed to firefox etc.) community. Otherwise, Opera is probably your best bet. As far as usage goes: I think it's still pretty limited, but definitely worth considering for future projects that need (or can benefit from) such features, rather than some proprietary solution. Especially since it's a relatively small amount of extra work that can be overlaid onto existing web pages.

  • Microsoft bought TellMe (1-800-555-TELL), which does some of that. (Call it from a cell phone; the behavior on land lines is entirely different. From a cell phone, you can get movie listings, driving directions, etc.; on a land line, all it does is phone directories.)

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:30PM (#27215169)

    Talk to the animals? Talk to the Web? Same difference.

    • I remember that IBM shipped a voice recognition system built into OS/2 v3, which worked with the Workplace Shell and with most applications. You had to speak to it in a slightly clipped way (words just separated), but it worked quite well. It did not need training (at least for my lousy accent) unless I used specialized vocabulary, but with training it could even cope with really horrible enunciation (my drunken buddies). That was in the days of the i386 and primitive SoundBlaster digitization, so I would h
  • Achilles says "No." (Score:4, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:33PM (#27215197)

    Voice tech has an achilles heel: It's called accents. Most voice software works great for english-speaking people in the midwestern United States. But if you have an accent and have ever tried to "interact" with one of those voice mail systems that are speech-activated rather than touch-tone, the words unholy rage doesn't begin to describe the frustration of listening to a soothing voice repeatedly saying "I'm sorry, I do not understand your request" and then endlessly repeats the menus. Pressing '0', if you're wondering, will only make the system remind you that it (a) only speaks english and (b) while it can process touch tones, it won't -- because it hates you.

    And IBM wants to bring this unique hell to the web? What kind of sadists are these people? As if websites that require Flash and the horrors that server-side Java unleashed wasn't enough...

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:40PM (#27215329)

      Voice tech has an achilles heel: It's called accents. Most voice software works great for english-speaking people in the midwestern United States.

      If that's true of this software developed by IBM's Indian research arm and pilot tested in Andhra Pradesh [wikipedia.org] and Gujarat [wikipedia.org], then I suspect it will also handle a lot of other English-speaking people.

      But if you have an accent

      As if English-speaking people from the midwestern United States don't.

      • If that's true of this software developed by IBM's Indian research arm and pilot tested in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, then I suspect it will also handle a lot of other English-speaking people.

        It can handle accents but it must be programmed in; Voice recognition software is significantly about heuristic algorithms -- guessing what accent, doing differential analysis, etc. But it also succeeds because it often limits itself to yes/no or multiple choice answers -- that is, the answer must be one of those presented. Voice recognition that tries to do free-form recognition has an unacceptably high error rate. Therefore, it doesn't matter where it's tested, or what language. It only reaches a passable

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lennier (44736)

          "English-speaking with a midwestern accent is generally viewed [BY AMERICANS] as the most easily understood amongst all english accents; And this accent is the one used for many (if not most) [AMERICAN] television reporters, voice recordings intended for mass [AMERICAN] audience, etc. Most other accents are defined [BY AMERICANS] by how they mangle certain syllables."

          Fexed thaht fah yah.

      • But if you have an accent

        As if English-speaking people from the midwestern United States don't.

        As if English-speaking people from England don't.

    • Most voice software works great for english-speaking people in the midwestern United States. But if you have an accent ...

      I have a southeastern Michigan accent - essentially the same as the "standard radio/TV accent" (Cincinnati OH). It was chosen for that service because it makes ALL the American English phonetic distinctions (vs. for example an east-coast accent which merges "l" and "r" making Kennedys sound like they're saying Fidel heads "Cuber") and because it's intelligible to speakers of ALL the Ame

      • was chosen for that service because it makes ALL the American English phonetic distinctions (vs. for example an east-coast accent which merges "l" and "r" making Kennedys sound like they're saying Fidel heads "Cuber")

        Merging "l" and "r" is kind of tangential to that, since the Carribean nation at issue isn't called "Cubal", either.

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      That's annoying, but try working your way through one of those systems with kids running through the room halfway through the call (or, having your parents yell down to the basement, depending on your situation). Accent doesn't matter, the system will think you just agreed to buy something.

  • I wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by rootnl (644552) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:34PM (#27215221)
    User: fap fap fap fap fap
    Web: Oh Yea baby!
    User: fap fap fap fap fap
    Web: Wow that's it yea!
  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Monday March 16, 2009 @03:43PM (#27215387) Homepage Journal

    Breaker breaker, good buddy! Thanks for visiting my online speakin' site! My handle is: The Delta Lady! If ya'll wanna visit my cousin Watts' site, just say "bacon." If'n'ya wanna hear a special Christmas story about varmints pullin' Santa's sleigh, say "Merry Chris'mas, ya'll!"

    • It's "y'all", as in, a contraction of "you all". It's a second-person plural pronoun in English. The langauge lacks a way of telling if one is speaking to a single person or group of people - rather primitive, in that just about every other langauge on the planet has this innovation. If you're going to ridicule others' language, at least ridicule it correctly. Thanks!
      • by Gizzmonic (412910)

        Fuck ya'll, I'm from Texas and I guarantee you my grasp of "langauge" is farly superious to yours!

      • We have a very simple way of telling what someone means when he says 'you': context. It is really not that hard.
  • April first is coming soon, that sounds like a pretty april foul to me.
  • From the RTFA,

    Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat and the kind of innovations that people came up with were just mind-boggling, Gupta said.

    Is IBM saying that these people from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat are mind boggled when they are introduced to "Phone Mazes From Hell?" That the rest of us have had to endure from the Faceless Ones [wiktionary.org] for years? Or is Gupta saying that these noble folk were mind boggled when they hear voices respond back on a cell phone?

  • Isn't the purpose of the internet to AVOID having to talk to people?

  • IBM had an addon or something for the Opera browser which was shipped with the Sharp Zaurus 5600 which took in speech and did recognition against web page stuff. I remember their demo having the ability to take in spoken orders for Pizza and flight reservations right into the browser. It worked pretty good but background noise was an issue from my experience.

    It never went anywhere on the Zaurus mostly because the Zaurus didn't take off. Sharp attempted to build an open source software platform but didn't th

  • What good is any of this HTSP tech if the computer still can't parse speech into text or symbols? Speech recognition doesn't really work, not accurately enough for mass use on Web PCs or mobile phones. Even speech synthesis, a much easier problem, isn't really that great.

    I smell another IBM submarine patent farm, not an actual "innovation factory".

  • We are experiencing unusually high call volume. Your estimated hold time is 345987 minutes.

  • ...wait until you get older and have to try and see that crap on those tiny screens with your old quadfocal eyes and try to type on them teeny designed for Japanese kids keyboards with your stiff fingers, then you *might* get a clue why a spoken way to interact with the web on those devices might be useful. I'd like that on my desktop, let alone some Lilliputian cellphone.

    Now, don't get off my lawn, see that mower? Yank that cord and start pushing it and work off some of those cheetos!

  • It's Dr. Sbaitso. As in "Sound Blaster Acting Intelligent Text to Speech Operator". Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
  • Headline:

    "IBM Develops Technology To Talk To Web "

    Following-Up Story Headline:

    "Web Talks Dirty To IBM"

  • VoiceXML is old news.

    http://slashdot.org/articles/01/03/14/1622217.shtml [slashdot.org]

    HTTP works great with them so why do we need a new protocal anyways?

  • I saw a presentation at SLT'08 (http://slt2008.org/Papers/viewpapers.asp?papernum=1191) about that voice web. Contrary to what slashdot readers seem to think, this is not an extension of the current www. They want to start over with speech only (input and output). It is designed so that people who can't read can use it, and they don't need the latest smartphone, just a regular phone. URLs would be replaced by phone numbers that you would dial. Then you would be able to listen to whatever "podcast" which wo

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