Spoken dialogue technology: enabling the conversational user interface
ACM Computing Surveys
Spoken dialogue systems allow users to interact with computer-based applications such as databases and expert systems by using natural spoken language. The origins of spoken dialogue systems can be traced back to Artificial Intelligence research in the 1950s concerned with developing conversational interfaces. However, it is only within the last decade or so, with major advances in speech technology, that large-scale working systems have been developed and, in some cases, introduced into
... ial environments. As a result many major telecommunications and software companies have become aware of the potential for spoken dialogue technology to provide solutions in newly developing areas such as computer-telephony integration. Voice portals, which provide a speech-based interface between a telephone user and Web-based services, are the most recent application of spoken dialogue technology. This article describes the main components of the technology-speech recognition, language understanding, dialogue management, communication with an external source such as a database, language generation, speech synthesis-and shows how these component technologies can be integrated into a spoken dialogue system. The article describes in detail the methods that have been adopted in some well-known dialogue systems, explores different system architectures, considers issues of specification, design, and evaluation, reviews some currently available dialogue development toolkits, and outlines prospects for future development.