Intel speaks out on

Intel Corp. last month announced an integrated hardware and software platform for applications that allow Internet users to obtain information from the Web using regular telephones and voice commands. A company senior executive made the announcement in a keynote address at the Networld+Interop 2000 trade show in Atlanta.

Taken together, the set of products combine to form a “voice portal” built on Intel components, according to John Miner, vice-president and general manager of Intel’s Communications Products Group. Aimed at companies who are deploying Internet-based voice applications in their electronic-business infrastructure, the platform is based on Intel servers with Intel DSP (digital signal processing) cards, continuous speech processing and speech-recognition software.

Stu Patterson, chief executive officer of speech specialist SpeechWorks International Inc., demonstrated the technology during Miner’s keynote by dialing into a server, showing how he could retrieve weather, traffic, sports, entertainment and stock market information by following the spoken instructions and replying verbally. The platform is already being used by Inc. and other service providers.

The voice portal has intelligence built in that recognizes where the caller is and it makes assumptions about the information the caller might want based on what he or she has already asked for, Patterson said. For example, if a caller asks about the weather in Boston, then asks for movie listings, the system automatically assumes they want movie listings in Boston.

SpeechWorks, which became a publicly traded company two months ago, believes using speech to access information from the Web will let companies who are developing applications reach a whole new class of users, Patterson said. The company’s software, for example, is used by United Airlines Inc. passengers, who can call for flight information and report and track lost baggage. It’s also behind Federal Express Corp.’s information services for package arrival information. SpeechWorks has announced an arrangement with Palm Inc. that will let users obtain calendar information via voice commands.

Patterson said SpeechWorks also supports seven brokerage firms who have integrated speech into their e-business offerings. The company is also working with on-line map and directions service, the Weather Channel and ESPN to provide similar speech-activated information retrieval services.

Some of the largest information technology companies, including America Online Inc. (AOL), Lucent Technologies Inc., Dutch electronics giant Philips NV and IBM Corp. are involved in projects that involve retrieving information from the Internet using speech. AOL recently bought and will use its technology to activate a speech portal featuring AOL content, Patterson said. AOL has also invested in SpeechWorks.

Intel’s Miner also demonstrated tools designed to simplify Web hosting and e-commerce services. A representative of Verio Inc. also participated in Miner’s keynote, showing how Intel NetStructure products are being used to scale and add new e-business services to companies’ offerings without interrupting their existing computing infrastructure.

Providing the hardware and software solutions for technologies such as voice portals fits into Intel’s strategy to be the premier building block supplier for the Internet economy, according to Miner. He said the 35 companies Intel has acquired over the past two years with expertise in telecommunications and data communications, when combined with Intel’s expertise in computing, form a powerhouse trio.

“These three ingredients bring the best of computing to the world of networking and best of networking to the world of computing,” Miner said.

Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at +1-408-765-8080, or on-line at


SpeechWorks, in Boston, can be reached at +1-617-428-4444 or found on the Web at


AOL, in Dulles, Va., can be reached at

., in Sunnyvale, Calif., can be reached at