I’m sure we’ve all had experiences with voice systems like the one above. Usually they are deployed as cost savings measures to reduce customer support staff. Unfortunately, this is the only experience most have with voice systems. Although not often covered in the HCI literature, there is an incredible amount that voice interfaces can do. These options are also becoming more viable as the base of consumers with voice-enabled devices (usually phones) grows.
One idea would be to have location-aware voice-based assistance relayed through an earbud as one navigated in an unfamiliar space. The space could be driving directions, or just walking downtown. The information could range from educational to entertainment to cultural to (of course) commercial. This type of interaction would allow hands-free operation, and more importantly, leave the eyes open to experience the world instead of being focused on a tiny screen.
Some of you may know that we are contributors to ACM-CHI’s Interactions magazine. Every issue for the last year has included a comic which has never appeared on this site.
A few days ago, I received an email that was sent en masse to all contributors of looks like a particular issue of Interactions by Susan Dray of Dray & Associates. I’m familiar somewhat with hers and her colleague David Siegel’s work and I respect them but I can only say her email simply confirms what I’ve suspected for awhile - we take ourselves too seriously.
Since she felt the need to share with the entire distribution rather than just the editors of the magazine, I’m going to quote an excerpt here: