I have been developing a series of interconnected projects for 4 months now. Not too much visible work yet but technology research and product selection to make it work. Once this is done the actual development phase will go by fairly quickly with 2-3 weeks per project. My problem is that a good portion (probably around 50%) of my target audience can't read but using the visual and aural capabilities of the web I should be able to get around that. I have found software (Microsoft Agent) that enables me to include "Text-to-Speech" in each project with little work on my part. Unfortunately to utilize this technology would preclude Netscape and Macintosh users from taking advantage of the full capabilities of the site. That is probably 25 to 35% of the current market.
The use of Text-to-Speech represents about 25% of the overall site's marketability and is a #1 project goal for myself. The other goals are interface (25%) and content (50%). The target market is worth billions of dollars annually in the US alone and while there is development on the Web so far it doesn't come close to other mediums (TV, Magazines, Cinema, Software).
----About the technology----
Microsoft Agents are the little cartoon characters that help you with the Office Suite of applications. Those same characters can be added to your webpage to add various features including:
* Controlled Animation
* Text to Speech
* Voice Control from the user
* Help Functions
* and Natural Language Query capabilities.
Agent Software was developed for Office 95 and IE 4.0. You can download the agent files from the Microsoft site. Starting with Windows 2000 and Windows Millenium (home version) the necessary files to view agents on webpages will be included with the OS.
----My question is this----
At what point can you safely diverge from the standards and trying to satisfy every and develop a superior product?
Also if anyone knows of any plugin or addon that has all the same capabilities of MS Agent but also runs on Navigator and Macintosh machines please let me know.
With the MS Agent you are still loosing out on the Mac market. However, the Mac (I think) has a build in speech generator (I know that my old Amiga did). You might be able to access that...
You can't use MS-Agent under Netscape because it does not run activeX controls. There used to be a free plug-in to do so but the only thing I can find now costs anywhere between $40.00 and $200.00 per license to run activeX controls on Navigator.