Korean Tourism Body To Launch Voice-Enabled Info System Next Month

asia.internet.com staff

Updated · Dec 18, 2001

The Korea National Tourism Organization plans to deploy a voice-enabled information system in January 2002 with help from speech-recognition vendor SpeechWorks International and its Korean ASP partner of two years, Metel Corporation.

The new system is expected to bring about greater efficiency to the process of providing tourism-related information to callers using the Korean language.

“The voice-enabled system will allow callers to simply state what city or area they are interested in exploring, and receive that information immediately without waiting in queue to speak with an operator. This works quite well for wireless callers who may be in their car or callers dialing in from outside of Korea who don't have access to a directory of city codes,” said Lee Kee Young, president of Seoul-headquartered Metel.

“The previous touch-tone system made it difficult to access information because the caller had to know the code for specific cities, or listen through a long menu of city names for the respective code.”

The limitations of the existing touch-tone system require callers to enter specific codes for each city name, while choosing from among 600 numbers, in order to obtain tour information. These callers are then put on hold while they wait for an operator to assist them. The required individual city codes are listed in a Code Book, which is available through the Internet and at information centers throughout Korea. Such city code information is also accessible via a touch-tone menu.

But with the new system, which will feature a Korean natural-language speech application developed by Metel using speech recognition technology from NASDAQ-listed SpeechWorks, callers can obtain tourist information on Korean cities, regions and individual tourist attractions by simply saying the name of the desired city or city code, without any restriction on time or device used.

Using natural-language voice commands, callers can access information offered through three types of services:

* sight services, which enables callers to access tour information for desired cities

* total services, which enables callers to state specific attractions such as “mountains,” and be provided information about popular mountainous areas in Korea

* area services, which provides callers with area information such as “downtown” or “market district”

Said Howard Gross, vice-president and general manager, International, SpeechWorks, “The tourism industry is a key source of foreign exchange earnings in Korea, and the National Tourism Organization has proven its outward-looking and innovative approach to attracting tourists by providing information through a state-of-the-art speech application.

“With the World Cup to be played this coming summer in venues across the country, the influx of tourists can use natural speech to obtain instant information via any telephony device.”

Prior to the National Tourism Organization project, SpeechWorks had already worked with its Korean ASP partner to develop the ‘Voistock' stock trading system for the Hyundai Stock Brokerage Firm just this year.

Metel has also been involved in the development of automated trading systems and exchange systems using voice-recognition technology, and is now targeting its speech-recognition tour information system with voice recognition and synthesis solutions at customers in the government sector.

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