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Open Source VoiceXML Gets a New Master

An open source VoiceXML interpreter touted as a key technology for making phone calls over the Internet has found a new development home.

Open VXI is now being backed by Vocalocity to help push adoption of the nascent voice technology.

ScanSoft had been the corporate custodian of OpenVXI since it acquired the leadership mantle as the result of its SpeechWorks acquisition last year. SpeechWorks is the original developer the OpenVXI technology. Financial terms of the deal between ScanSoft and Vocalocity were not disclosed.

OpenVXI is an open source VoiceXML interpreter that provides a portable library that interprets the VoiceXML markup language. A VoiceXML interpreter is a component in a complete voice platform that would allow for speech-enabled directory assistance, automated balance inquiries, bill payment, and unified messaging. According to Vocalocity, OpenVXI is currently in use by a number of global telcos including MCI and Nortel Networks .

Supporters of the project say the continued development of the project is important since all telephony platforms will require a multitude of evolving and emerging standards like VoiceXML.

"This is a key strategic move for Vocalocity. It grows its base of developers significantly and is very consistent with its OEM approach to the speech-enabled world," Dan Miller, Senior Analyst at OPUS Research, said in a statement. "With the agreement, Vocalocity is positioned as a foundation for OEM VoiceXML implementations, OpenVXI and SALT interpreters."

OpenVXI is licensed under the GPL and is a sourceforge listed project. In addition to the new corporate backer, the project also released version 3.0 yesterday.

"OpenVXI has been incredibly successful in advancing the VoiceXML standard and is integral in shortening the time to market for a wide range of speech solutions," said Steve Chambers, president of SpeechWorks, a division of ScanSoft in a statement. "Vocalocity's extensive VoiceXML expertise and OEM focus makes them the ideal vendor to drive the advancement of an open source VoiceXML interpreter."

OpenVXI is compliant and based on the VoiceXML 2.0 specification, which was completed in March. The original work on VoiceXML began a decade ago in 1994, though the technology didn't go mainstream until IBM, AT&T, Motorolo and Lucent created the VoiceXML Forum in 1999. The specification is now under the stewardship of the W3C, which passed the first specification in 2002.

At the beginning of June, the VoiceXML forum began a new program to certify developers on VoiceXML as part of its effort to help adoption of the technology.