They will help users read and respond to messages as they are typed in a device
A global initiative is under way to promote real-time text (RTT) technologies, which make it possible for users to read and respond to text messages even as they are being typed or input into a device.
An open forum and centre of excellence was launched some months ago to provide engineers, experts, companies and others interested with opportunities to push for the adoption of this mode of communication, based on character-by-character streaming in real time. It was launched by Foundation Real-Time Text Taskforce, a non-profit organisation based in Oss, The Netherlands.
The Internet Society had assisted the Real-Time Text Taskforce by giving coordination assistance, technical expertise and implementation support during the early stages of its development. This paved the way for it to become an independent organisation last year.
RTT is compatible with the protocols used to facilitate voice and video communication over the Internet or in certain other digital environments. “RTT can be used on any network. In the past, RTT on the public telephone network used TTYs (or text telephones), but as we move to completely Internet Protocol (IP)-based telecommunications, we are actually talking about IP RTT,” Foundation director Arnoud van Wijk explained to The Hindu.
Those involved in the initiative agree that RTT provides “immediacy to text-based communications, similar to what the telephone service provides for voice.”
Though originally developed for people with hearing and speech problems, it could have global appeal, given the immense popularity of SMS and chatting. Texting becomes more interactive, immediate and faster with RTT technologies, which are based on Internet Engineering Task Force and International Telecommunications Union standards.
At the heart of RTT is the Session Initiation Protocol and the Real-Time Text transport standard, and it is designed to be compatible with voice over IP (VoIP) and video over IP environments.
Ensuring interoperability and standardisation of the technologies used is an objective of the taskforce as is creating awareness of RTT among organisations, industry, end-users and governments.
Real-Time Text can be used in isolation or along with other real-time communication modes such as voice telephony and videoconferencing to enhance their effectiveness. It can also be used in situations which do not permit the use of voice — such as meetings or noisy environments.
It could be an important communication option for those who are aurally challenged because the exchanges are more conversational, with increased scope for quick interaction both ways, compared with the kind of responses that are possible with Instant Messaging and SMS.
“When the mobile phones finally switch over to VoIP, RTT will be more supported out of the box. But it is now possible to use RTT on more and more mobile phones. Blackberry, iPhone, Android Phones are all able to install the RTT program and use this directly. It is advised to use a smartphone that allows the user to install applications and also allows text input using a [virtual] keyboard,” Mr. van Wijk explains.
While 3G phones come equipped to support RTT, even 2G networks can support it, says Mr. van Wijk. “If the network supports IP, RTT can be used. 2G networks that support GPRS can also use RTT, assuming that the phones/terminals allow UDP support [User Datagram Protocol, a technical Internet protocol]. All 3G phones support UDP, so, for those it is just a matter of downloading the IP RTT software.” Telecom operators in Sweden, The Netherlands and France are offering different kinds of RTT services, he says.