HTML5 Is Live

Article Featured Image

with the audio and video they collected.”

Larson adds that WebRTC will allow users to import and export media, including voice, without having to install or download anything.

WebRTC will enable better speech quality for call center, analytics, biometrics, and call recording applications, according to Val Matula, senior director and head of emerging technologies at Avaya.

Another strong use case will be e-learning and corporate training, where Translate Your World is already experimenting with WebRTC. In October, the automatic voice translation company released its real-time voice-enabled language translation software, TYWI, with WebRTC compatibility. With that release, users are able to listen to the educational material, translated for them in 78 possible languages in real time while the instructor is saying them. The addition of WebRTC will enable those taking the educational seminars, Webcasts, or online courses to listen in their own language and have their verbal comments translated for the teacher.

WebRTC will also make it possible for streaming computer voices to be added to the mix so that a translated voice can be heard in place of subtitles.

The TYWI app supports WebEx, Adobe Connect, Skype, Blackboard, GoToWebinar, and other Web conferencing applications.

Sue Ellen Reager, president of Translate Your World and CEO of @International Services, says WebRTC is expected to revolutionize online communication, and adds that it has certainly transformed her company’s software.

But for all its promise, WebRTC has not taken complete hold of the industry, as some of the bigger names in computing have yet to get on board. So far, Google and Mozilla support the WebRTC platform, but Apple and Microsoft do not.

It’s just a matter of time before they, too, adopt WebRTC, Matula says, noting that “the world is moving toward working on the Web and communicating right within the [browser].”

Even Reager acknowledges that WebRTC might not be available on all devices, but she notes that it will eventually take over, and when it does, “Translate Your World will already be there.”

There is also a recording API, released as part of the WebRTC standard, that enables programmers to set up voice recordings and what the Web app does with them.

This API, released by W3C as a working draft in February 2013, attempts to make basic recording very simple, while still allowing for more complex use cases. The contents of the recording will be made available in the platform’s default encoding via the <dataavailable> event. The developer can also create the means for the application to choose how much data it should receive at one time. By default, a “blob” containing the entire recording is returned when the recording finishes; however, the application can be set to receive smaller buffers of data at regular intervals.

HTML5 also introduces new features that can significantly change the way users interact with Web documents, including new parsing rules, which govern how applications receive input—usually from the source program instructions, interactive online commands, or markup tags—and break them up into parts, such as the nouns (objects), verbs (methods), and their attributes or options that can then be managed by other programming.

Also included are new attributes, or characteristics of a page element, such as a font or a color for a typeface; drag-and-drop capabilities from one HTML5 document to another; offline editing; messaging enhancements; and MIME (Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions), an email protocol that lets users exchange audio, video, images, application programs, and other kinds of data files and similar protocol handler registrations, and which is a common standard for storing data in SQL databases.

Super Simple

Companies looking to deploy applications coded in HTML5 “shouldn’t need to do anything differently,” Dahl says.

Additionally, HTML5 will be fully backward-compatible, according to Larson, meaning that applications written in previous versions should still work seamlessly in the newest version.

Larson expects many application developers to start using HTML5. “I think we’re going to see a number of new apps written in HTML5,” he says. “We’re seeing it already with apps for smartphones, smart glasses, smart watches.”

And while HTML5 was designed for simplicity, its creation was anything but simple. The specification took several years to draft and went through a number of versions. Work on the markup language began in 2006. The first draft of HTML5 was adopted by the W3C working group in January 2008.

Some companies, such as Genesys, AT&T, and IBM, have thrown their development support behind HTML5, but others, including Apple, Microsoft, and Nuance Communications, still work with their own proprietary APIs. Microsoft, for example, still relies on its SAPI (Speech Application Program Interface), provided with the Microsoft Windows operating system, for developers to write programs that offer text-to-speech and speech recognition capabilities.

Nonetheless, HTML5 is gaining steam.

Vision Mobile, in its latest Developer Economics report released earlier this year, noted that Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android platform, and HTML5 all hold the same sway among developers, at 52 percent. Apple’s mindshare dropped from 56 percent last year, while HTML5 has jumped two percentage points from a year ago.

Another survey from Sencha, a provider of products for HTML5-based app development and deployment, found that more than 60 percent of mobile developers have migrated to HTML5, and 75 percent of those who had were expecting to do even more with HTML5 this year, more out of necessity than priority.

Scottish Web development firm RunRev says 85 percent of its clients are ready to start using HTML5, which prompted it to release LiveCode for HTML5 recently. LiveCode for HTML5 will allow developers to build interactive educational content, dashboards, simulations, sales tools, database front ends, and many other types of Web and mobile applications and deploy them to any browser.

According to Kevin Miller, RunRev’s CEO, customers have repeatedly stated in surveys that the one thing they want “more than any other” is the ability to deploy in HTML5.

As HTML5 spreads, Larson sees great potential for the speech industry. Once HTML5 and its companion specifications are implemented across the board, “then you’ll see applications that are truly hands-free, freeing us from our keyboards once and for all,” he says.

“We’ll be able to use applications in a great variety of places. We’ll be able to query all sorts of things that are connected to the Internet,” Larson adds. “We’ll be able to do transactions from anywhere, all hands-free.”

“One of the most interesting things to come out of all the activity around HTML5 is the potential for an increased quality of audio, and that will be crucial for speech to move forward,” Burnett says.

News Editor Leonard Klie can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

SpeechTek Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues
Related Articles

Growing the Pool of Speech Developers

College students combine creativity with hands-on learning.

WebRTC Enables Dual-Language Speech

Anticipating the powerful impact of cross-language talking.

Media Standards for the Web: WebRTC and WebAudio

WebRTC and WebAudio add speed and simplicity.

The 2014 Speech Luminaries