Cisco, Comverse, Intel, Microsoft, Philips and SpeechWorks Found Speech Application Language Tags Forum to Develop New Standard For Multimodal and Telephony-Enabled Applications and Services

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 15, 2001 — A broad group of technology leaders today announced its commitment to develop a royalty-free, platform-independent standard that will make possible multimodal and telephony-enabled access to information, applications and Web services from PCs, telephones, tablet PCs and wireless personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) will extend existing markup languages such as HTML, xHTML and XML. Multimodal access will enable users to interact with an application in a variety of ways: They will be able to input data using speech and/or a keyboard, keypad, mouse or stylus, and produce data as synthesized speech, audio, plain text, motion video and/or graphics. Each of these modes could be used independently or concurrently.

Cisco Systems Inc., Comverse Inc., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Philips Speech Processing and SpeechWorks International Inc. are co-founding the SALT Forum, and they pledge to encourage the adoption of the resulting SALT technology in a wide range of products.

The SALT specification is designed to make both multimodal and telephony-enabled applications and services faster and easier to create, deploy and use, resulting in the following benefits:

  • End users will be able to use SALT-based applications speech, text or graphical interfaces independently or together.

  • Developers will be able to seamlessly embed speech enhancements in existing HTML, xHTML and XML pages, using familiar languages, technologies and toolkits.

  • Businesses will be able to offer common Web-based applications across multiple presentation media, resulting in reduced complexity and costs. In addition, they will be able to use their existing Web investments and expertise, and eliminate the need to create discrete applications for each type of output.

  • Service providers will be able to deploy a broad range of applications using standards that enable the widest range of services, offering new business opportunities and revenue streams that better serve both consumers and business customers.

As an open industry initiative, the SALT Forum will promote the specification and share intellectual property to develop it. A broad range of companies is expected to join the initiative. The forum founders expect to make the specification publicly available in the first quarter of 2002 and to submit it to a standards body by midyear.

Extending Existing Web Standards to Simplify Work for Developers

Because SALT is independent of the underlying platform, developers will be able to add a speech interface to applications, making them accessible from telephones or other GUI-based devices. SALT will simplify the creation of multimodal and telephony-enabled applications by supporting and extending the standard Web programming model and familiar markup languages, including XML, HTML, xHTML and WML. Developers will only need to add simple, lightweight SALT tags to existing applications, rather than rewrite the applications.

SALT will help enterprises boost their efficiency by consolidating existing speech and Web-based applications into one solution, and will enhance the productivity of mobile employees by giving them greater access to corporate data wherever they need it. SALT will provide enterprises with the road map to extend their existing application investments to reach customers by telephone today and by multimodal devices as these become pervasive. Lastly, service providers will have the option to deploy a new class of speech applications and services.

The forum founders envision that with SALT, end users will finally have available the most convenient, natural and consistent user interface to applications and Internet-based information and services any time, any place, from any device.

More information about SALT is available at

About Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq “CSCO”) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. News and information are available at

About Comverse

Comverse, a unit of Comverse Technology Inc. (Nasdaq “CMVT”), is the world’s leading provider of software and systems enabling network-based multimedia enhanced communications services. More than 375 wireless and wireline telecommunications network operators, in more than 100 countries, have selected Comverse’s enhanced services systems and software, which enable the provision of revenue-generating value-added services including call answering with one-touch call return, short messaging services, IP-based unified messaging (voice, fax and e-mail in a single mailbox), 2.5G/3G multimedia messaging (MMS), wireless instant messaging, wireless data and Internet-based services, voice-controlled dialing, messaging and browsing, prepaid wireless services and additional personal communication services. Other Comverse Technology business units include: Comverse Infosys, a world leader in the development, manufacture and marketing of intelligent digital voice, video and data recording and content management applications for the security, surveillance, law enforcement and contact center markets; and Ulticom, a leading provider of service enabling network software for wireless, wireline and Internet communications. Comverse Technology is an S & P 500 and Nasdaq-100 Index company. Additional information is available at the Comverse Web site at

About Intel

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Additional information about Intel is available at

About Philips

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest electronics companies and Europe’s largest, with sales of 37.9 billion Euros in 2000. It is a global leader in color television sets, lighting, electric shavers, color picture tubes for televisions and monitors, and one-chip TV products. Its 212,390 employees in more than 60 countries are active in the areas of lighting, consumer electronics, domestic appliances, components, semiconductors and medical systems. Philips is quoted on the NYSE (symbol “PHG”), London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and other stock exchanges. News from Philips is located at .

Philips Speech Processing, a business unit of Royal Philips Electronics, is a pioneer and global leader in speech recognition and language-understanding technologies, with more than 40 years of experience in the market of speech products. As the original innovator of Voice Dialing applications, Philips Speech Processing now offers a wide variety of applications including Corporate Voice Dialing and Personal Voice Dialing via wireless carriers, fully automated Directory Assistance and Voice Portals for call center automation and Internet applications. Today Philips Speech Processing continues to build on its leadership position with this strong solution portfolio and works with numerous third-party partners all over the world in the efforts to deploy speech-driven applications. Visit for more information.

About SpeechWorks

Through the power of SpeechWorks®
technologies, the human voice is all a caller needs to access instant information and conduct transactions from any landline or wireless phone. Providing both server-based and embedded technologies, SpeechWorks (Nasdaq “SPWX”) delivers natural language speech recognition and text-to-speech (TTS) solutions as well as speaker verification technology to leading corporations, telecommunications providers and government organizations worldwide. SpeechWorks is a pioneer in delivering technologies and services to support speech services today, and multimodal applications — combining audio input and output with visual information delivered to any device, over any network, in the future. For a description of our products, services and unique customer programs such as the SpeechWorks HereTM Guarantee, call (617) 428-4444 or visit .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft and Visual Studio are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft®
Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

SALT Forum Announcement Quote Sheet

“The ability to add speech to graphical applications will contribute to further growth in the rapidly expanding VoIP market and will enable delivery of innovative and interoperable value-added communications and services over a single packet network.”

— Alistair Woodman
Director of Marketing
Voice Technology Center
Cisco Systems

“Multimodal user experience is the natural way of interaction for end users. The ability of end users to choose their preferred mode of interaction at any point during a transaction will drive the take rate and the usage of new voice and data services. Comverse is committed to evolving its platforms to enable the development of multimodal revenue generating applications and services for 2.5 and 3G networks, including our messaging, personal communications and entertainment products along with the Spark Alliance Program. An open standard supported by major industry leaders will significantly increase the penetration and delivery of enhanced voice and data communications services.”

— Gideon Beery
Vice President of Marketing

“Intel endorses the delivery of open, standards-based speech tags to foster another wave of innovation on the Web and within communications networks. The addition of speech to text and graphics as a human interface increases computing device ease of use and benefits business and consumers. Call control expertise will enable developers to offer basic and enhanced calling features within their applications. Intel will deliver industry-leading performance for applications using Speech Application Language Tags when run on Intel platform architectures designed for desktop, mobile and tablet PCs, cell phones, PDAs and other wireless devices as well as a range of communication and Web servers.”

— Howard Bubb
Vice President and General Manager Telecommunications and Embedded Group

“As part of our commitment to provide leadership in enabling speech access to Web applications and services, Microsoft will offer Web developer tools to implement SALT, including providing SALT extensions for Visual Studio®
.NET and ASP.NET technologies, as well as extensions for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Pocket Internet Explorer Web browser software. We’re delighted to join with these major industry players to create a critical mass behind an open, independent infrastructure that will make natural-speech access to applications and the Web a reality.”

— Kai-Fu Lee
Vice President
Natural Interactive Services Division

“Philips technology encompasses all that SALT will unite: a convenient speech user interface for all kinds of devices providing input along with feedback via speech or on display. Thus SALT will make it even easier to use applications with Philips technology inside. Now it will be possible for you to ask your car navigation system for directions, as well as tell it to display the Web page with the hotels along the way from the Yellow Pages — all with just your voice.”

— Frank Caris
Philips Speech Processing North America

“SpeechWorks has invested in multimodal technologies, through both its networked and embedded speech-recognition and text-to-speech, and sees this founding initiative as critical to the success of multimodal applications in our industry. We have seen strong early-stage demand for multimodal applications and believe a standards initiative is key for widespread adoption.”

— Steve Chambers
Vice President Worldwide Marketing

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