You talking to me?

Maresa and Evelyn talking about Voice UI at the MCBW

You talking to me?

  • Evelyn Mäge
    Evelyn Mäge Usability Engineer, designaffairs
  • Maresa Biermann
    Maresa Biermann Usability Engineer, designaffairs

Insights on voice UI user behavior and opportunities for improved interaction and design

Across the globe, voice user interfaces (voice UIs) are on the rise via their integration in smartphones, computers, smart-home devices and many other consumer goods. Although users are generally full of praise for the possibilities presented by this unique technological innovation, many have expressed reservations about using speech assistants regularly in their daily life.

What should a Voice User Interface be like
What should a Voice User Interface be like

What should a Voice User Interface be like?

Maresa’s thoughts on the potential of voice UIs

“In my future vision, my personal voice assistant ─ a charming and smart male speech agent with a slightly British accent – will actually understand what I’m saying. He will sense the context of the situation and my tone of voice to adapt the length and tone of his response to my mood. When I’m in a hurry and ask him when the next train is leaving, he’ll provide that information in a precise and efficient manner. But when I’m relaxing in my weekend sweatpants and ask for tonight’s TV programs, he will maybe add a bit of humor to his response.

Since he has conducted a personality test on me, he knows what I find funny.

So I’m basically envisioning an individualized voice assistant customized to the user’s needs, preferences and even personality. Of course, until then, major improvement in speech recognition and context sensitivity must be achieved. However, I’m confident that we will take huge steps in the next couple of years to get the best out of the most natural way of interaction – speech.”

Maresa at the MCBW in our Munich studio
Maresa during the MCBW in our Munich studio

Evelyn’s insights on the potential of voice UIs

“You might think Alexa and Siri are old hat at this stage, nothing new or special. But just think how much interacting with a device via voice can change things for someone who can’t control a smartphone as easily as you or me – think about disabled or older people, for example.

A voice assistant is more than just a gimmick – it’s inclusive.

Voice-user interfaces (VUIs) are the most inclusive way of interacting – speech is one of the most natural things for us as humans. Why not use this to make technology easily available to everybody? Inclusivity also applies to developing this technology further. We need to integrate diverse people into this process – old and young, female and male, healthy and disabled, politically progressive and conservative – all over the world to best reflect all of humanity.

In my vision of VUIs, they’re not only speech-recognition assistants but wise companions, merry helpers and smart agents. They will be more – they will be door openers to the world for every one of us.”

Evelyn talking about Voice UI at the MCBW in our munich office
Evelyn talking about Voice UI during the MCBW in our Munich studio

The people behind our thoughts

Related examples of our work

Voice UI User Test at designaffairs

During a research and concept project in our Munich studio, we demonstrated that users have high praise for devices with voice UIs in terms of the functionalities they offer, such as music and smart-home appliances. Reasons for disliking or not using voice systems are mostly related to problems of speech recognition and limited functionality. Based on these user insights, key factors for the development of voice UI concepts were identified in a workshop with subject matter experts (SMEs).

Read more about the individual steps in our position paper.

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