Seems like a long time since we have had Siri and Alexa in our lives. But, truth be told, their existence is very new in our digital world. Sometimes, as they have made our life so much easier in multitudinous ways, we forget that time when we did not have them as our own virtual assistants.
Advantages of having these Voice User Interfaces (VUI) are huge, as they allow us hands-free and eyes-free use of devices, so we can focus our attention elsewhere. But, how are Voice User Interfaces affecting our experiences as users? Is it easy for users to get involved with Artificial Intelligence in their daily life?
First things first: What are VUI?
First of all, we must make sure that we understand what VUI are. Voice User Interfaces are the primary or supplementary visual, auditory and tactile interfaces that enable voice interaction between people and devices. They appeared when the rise of machine learning adjusted to voice and big data occured, as Cloud computing leads to quicker processing and a faster evolution of the user interface.
Voice User Interfaces are a type of User Interface that has had a lot of popularity in the recent years. Just by using our voices, we can interact with technology through speech recognition. The best part about the application of these interfaces is making the experience more human to us. As Clifford Nass said, ‘’Speech is the fundamental means of human communication. All cultures persuade, inform and build relationships primarily through speech’’. That is why creating more human relationships with our devices makes us build stronger relationships with them. Because of that, it is very important for developers to understand the complexity of human communication, as users expect a more conversational tone from devices.
We want more ‘human-like’ devices
Thanks to VUI, brands can assure that a durable relationship is held between devices and users, as a more personable tone helps increase brand affinity, since we are more likely to use those particular devices or services that are more entertaining and more ‘human’ in nature. Also, they create a communication that is efficient and convenient, as users can quickly adjust how they want to use the devices.
When we say it is important for users to have experiences that are more ‘human-like’, we mean that they allow a more ‘human’ kind of conversation with the device, demonstrating real commitment to a culture of human centricity, less robotic. This happens thanks to Automatic Speech Recognition, a technology that allows us to use our voice to talk with interfaces in a way that resembles to human communication. Obviously, this has clear limitations, as we are not used to following strict linguistic laws – and devices cannot fully understand natural and complex human communication. For a VUI to succeed, it not only requires an excellent ability to understand spoken language, but also needs to train users to understand what type of voice commands they can use and what type of interactions they can perform. Some experts think that using VUI is not always the best idea, as it should be used for limited and short actions that do not have visual support. Want to know more about some UI Design experts? Here is a video about the team that built the voice experience of Alexa:
The bad part exists
Of course, we can see that using VUI is helpful and has a lot of advantages, but it has a bad part. The ugly part of using this kind of devices is, as expected, users’ privacy. Especially after the Cambridge Analytical scandal, users are beginning to ask themselves where does their privacy end – and how is that data being used and sold to big corporations. This is the main reason why users have difficulties in trusting IoT devices and managing the trust between devices and people is a major challenge, considering automatic exchange of personal information.
For brands to regain trust, developers and tech manufacturers must find ways to ensure that users’ privacy is a priority, making people feel more comfortable with the use of VUI devices and technology in general.
What can we expect from VUI?
The future of VUI is complex. Advancements in technology will allow us to develop better algorithms and softwares that are more apt to simulate human behaviours. For example, in businesses we can expect virtual assistants that replace secretaries, keeping track of to-do lists, dialing into conference calls or helping employees managing their schedules. Alexa for Business is a very good example.
However, what is impressing about the use of Voice User Interfaces is that they are becoming part of our daily life. For example, kids nowadays are already VUI Native. These devices are not only applied in the work field, but also in family houses – ‘smart homes’, are they are called -. Focusing on compatibility between smart home devices we are getting closer to completely interconnected households that allow families to control their digital devices wherever and whenever. Google Home and Amazon Echo are a great example, as they allow users to search the web, listen to news and updates or order a pizza while they do daily household activities.
But one thing is very clear: as they grow smarter over time, they collect more information and give users a better experience. It is obvious that talking to a VUI is still not quite like talking to a human, but these devices are expected to become more emotionally aware and humanized, making more people feel comfortable using them as part of their occurring life. Moreover, we are sure that voice interfaces will feel more natural and fluid to the next generation.
The mobile phone gave us mobility, but the real and final mobility is being given to us through real speech. Now, interfaces are completely adapted to ourselves: they solve problems, make inputting data fast and make our lives easier in many different ways. Voice-activated technology is the future and we will have to keep an eye out for its progress. At KingEclient, we have the power to influence this technology, creating fully user-centric Voice User Interfaces that improve user experience.
Written by KingEclient