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Hewlett-Packard starts E-speak pilot projects

Hewlett-Packard's E-speak Internet service technology is moving out of the company's labs and into pilot projects.

Hewlett-Packard's E-speak Internet service technology is moving out of the company's labs and into pilot projects, the project's leader said today.

HP unveiled the technology in May, describing its plans to spread e-speak to the computers across the Internet that help businesses deliver services to customers. E-speak is a software architecture that includes server-based software applications and programming tools.

The E-speak system is intended to give companies a jump-start in building e-commerce applications. E-speak includes basic infrastructure capabilities like messaging, mediation, security, naming, and monitoring for e-services running on or accessed by various devices.

E-speak is core to HP's e-services campaign, an effort to make sure HP benefits when companies move sophisticated services and their own business processes to the Internet.

The e-services plan has helped propel HP's stock price to its recent all-time high, but much of the effort still is in its early stages. Today's announcement is an indication that E-speak is moving out of the confines of HP and one of its initial partners, the Internet Travel Network.

E-speak is in use at Uniscape, a business that helps people find translation services; Captura, which lets companies use an electronic expense reporting system; and Helsinki Telephone, which will use E-speak to let people buy multimedia information such as training videos, said Rajiv Gupta, leader of the E-speak effort.

According to HP's vision, the E-speak software will reside on servers all around the Internet. It will let customers gain access to a wide variety of services--everything from planning a wedding to refinancing a mortgage. E-speak consists of core software that runs on each server, with modules that plug in to handle actions such as billing a customer.

For example, a customer wanting to refinance a mortgage might call upon a service provider who uses E-speak to collect all the offerings from different financial companies around the Internet. Then E-speak modules would sort out desirable prospects and present choices to the customer based on the profile the customer had specified.

E-speak itself is free, but HP will benefit from it by selling modules and other software that can use E-speak and by diverting into its own coffers a percentage of the stream of revenues such services create, Gupta said.

At Uniscape, E-speak will be used to find translators and allow them to bid for services and allow customers to select translators based on how fast they work, how well they do the job, and how much they charge, Gupta said.

Captura sells software for reimbursing employees' expenses, such as meals on business trips. The software replaces the traditional method of turning in receipts with an electronic process that's faster and cheaper to operate. Captura currently sells the product but in the future will use E-speak to rent it out as a service to companies who need the service but don't want to install it themselves. Merrill Lynch has invested in Captura, the company said.

And Helsinki Telephone will use E-speak to allow people to locate and buy and download digital content such as training videos, with E-speak doing most of the legwork of tracking down those who sell the content, Gupta said.

E-speak comes with its own encryption technology to keep transactions private and its own security system to ensure that authorized people can tie into computers behind protective firewalls, Gupta said. It also comes with a built-in auditing feature to record a history of transactions.