Tuesday, December 4, 2007

News Redux & Building VoiceGlue

I stumbled across some "traditional" news bits this week for speech and language technologies, representing most of the major and a few interesting minor market players . Yahoo is offering some kind of NLP-driven structured search for e-commerce solutions starting next year. A new bundled automatic translation software with automatic learning capabilities was announced by across Systems GmbH and Language Weaver. Loquendo is sponsoring a speech-for-in-car-navigation industry event. Persay, maker of voice authentication software, is shipping solutions securing Planet Payment's voice-enabled payment processing. Lastly Nuance, continuing its acquisition spree, buys Viecore, a contact-center integration consulting company, indicating a clear focus on strengthening its traditional speech and telephony market position.

Recently I stumbled across and blogged about VoiceGlue, an integration of various GPL-licensed pieces of software, providing full IVR capabilities (including rudimentary speech synthesis but not recognition.) Well, last night, together with Christoph, I finally had a stab at it myself.
Our test setup involved running Fedora 9 virtualized in Mac OS X. Our Fedora installation was missing a few pieces of software beyond the indicated prerequisites, but after about an hour everything was under way.
The trickiest bit proved to be building various modules required for the XML parser (I presume needed later for VoiceGlue-customized DTMF grammar parser.) For some reason CPAN's console kept conking out on us (claiming inexplicably missing/unbuildable prereqs), so after wrestling with that for some time, we decided to manually build all the modules ourself (hoorah, makefiles).
This worked like a charm, though we hit a snag with the Module::Build perl module, which required C_Support, which in turn required another perl module (ExtUtils-CBuilders), not mentioned in any documentation (scant across the board, though that's half the fun, isn't it).
After that, the VoiceGlue installation completed swiftly and all services started running after a minimal bit of configuration.
Next week we'll be back with some test calls and our first impressions. In the meanwhile we'll keep our eyes peeled for ASR integration (LumenVox/Sphinx), which will make this a truly valuable stab at open sourcing some of the most expensive carrier-grade technology out there.