Easing Speech Application Development With Tools
Novice speech application developers are often discouraged by the complexity of the development task. Their apprehension is reinforced by horror stories concerning the difficulties of grammar construction, mediocre dialog designs, the complexity of integrating business process with the voice user interface and the need for extensive tuning before an application performs well. Recently, however, the availability of speech application development tools has significantly reduced both the complexity of the development process and the time required to complete a development task.
Constructing a quality speech application requires the following steps:
1. VUI Design
2. VUI Development (component reuse, multi-user collaboration)
3. Prompt Creation
4. Grammar Generation
5. Back-end Integration
6. Packaging and Installation
7. Post-deployment Evaluation and Tuning
Figure 1. Steps in the Development of a VUI Application
There are more than a dozen speech application tools. Here are four specific tools and descriptions of how each addresses specific development steps.
The Audium Builder provides a graphical user interface that permits users to create and manage multiple applications. Elements selected from the Audium Elements Library are interconnected to construct an application. Audium Elements include general functions for managing audio, currency, numbers and digits, database, option menu, date and time, phone and transfer and yes/no as well as specific activities such as credit card, e-mail, Social Security number and ZIP code processing. A developer initiates the process by selecting global application settings and a target voice gateway. Application creation is done by dragging Audium Elements to the workspace to construct the call flow. As elements are added to a project, their properties can be configured to load pre-recorded audio or text-to-speech prompts, and configured to play naturally to callers. Elements are interconnected using the GUI to assign "exit states" to reach an end goal. The developing application can be validated and published to any Java application server.
The Audium Builder addresses the following steps: 1.VUI Development, 3.Prompt Creation and 6.Packaging and Installation, effectively using a smooth, intuitive user interface.
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