Audio Version: Preparing for the Voice Web by Lorelle VanFossen
Abhijit Nadgouda of iface thoughts recently talked about the new Hyperspeech Transfer Protocol (HSTP) for the future of the web. Pushing HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), HSTP is designed to incorporate voice applications.
Here is his reaction:
My immediate reaction was that it would really ease the mobile usage, where you need to navigate through the cumbersome keypad to use the Web. The voice Web will be a heaven-sent alternative. Some more thought and the skeptic start thinking about various other issues. What about identification and authentication? What about security? The HTTP Web is still struggling with these things.
He goes on to bring up some very good points, playing devil’s advocate on the issue, but he got me thinking about how voice would change the face, and sound, of the web from a blogger’s perspective.
I do a lot of podcasting, interviews, public speaking, and find myself in situations where my voice is recorded and heard by many. A lot of people are familiar with the sound of my voice.
I wrote recently about LeVar Burton recording his blog posts, as do many people, especially those determined to reach out to the hearing impaired or “listening” audiences. Their audiences come to know them through their voices.
Our voices are part of our identity. People make assumptions when they read your words, but when they hear a voice, their perceptions and assumptions may change, reinforcing or negating the words they are hearing.
What happens when voice web applications become the voice people hear when they access your blog? How will our perceptions about voice – and our judgments about the voice we hear – change and adapt when we move from print content to audio content?
Talking to the Internet
Called the “Talking Web protocol,” HSTP enabled users to create voice sites as well as set up transactions, focusing on the commercial side of web projects in the current version of the program. This makes sense as e-commerce will explode when it is not only easier to connect but to communicate with voice rather than clicks and keystrokes.
IBM called this one of the “five innovations that can change the world” permitting Internet access and interaction hands-free – totally voice operated. That’s a powerful statement, and the truth.
In some countries, people still can’t read and write. Imagine opening the web to those people dependent upon the spoken word to communicate. They talk to the web and it talks back to them.
There are live chat options such as the one being developed with Woopra, instant messaging services with web Widgets, and things like MeeboMe, the customizable live chat/instant messaging service widget. These are human to human live interactions, not computer manipulated.
It will be fascinating to see where the web voice goes. How much control will we have? Will we be able to choose the style of voice “heard” on our web? Or will that choice be up to the user? Currently, you can add an Aural style sheet to your website or blog to dictate the recommendations for screen readers and audio interaction, though not all screen readers obey the recommendations, and few sites offer them.
Web designers may have to become experts not only in design elements but audio elements as well.
The voice web is coming, there is no doubt. We’re ready for it.
However, I have a lot of questions. What questions do you have, and what features would you want and not want in the future of the voice web?