Bringing Alexa to meet the parents part 2

Introducing Alexa

alexxa imageI wanted to see what Alexa was like and I thought it could be useful for my parents, so I bought one for their home.

This was an experiment not only in terms of understanding what Alexa can do but also in understanding whether or not she would be a useful addition to my parents home.  Although my father is fairly tech-savy, neither he nor my mum has a smartphone and the iPad from two Christmases  ago is still sat behind the TV out of battery.

I had an idea of what they could use Alexa for (see previous article) but I was unsure if and how they might engage with her.  This article is about how I got on.  Continue reading

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Introducing Alexa at home Part 1

word "language"

I am not a linguist but as part of my university degree I studied foreign languages and I have always found the construction of languages interesting.  I was particularly  interested in the cultural aspects of language and what this can tell us about a person or a place.  Communication is much more than just words and is very much about context and peoples experience.

Now being a UX’er, I’m interested in understanding  how we go about trying to create  exchanges between humans and machines using natural language.  Voice as a medium can be very compelling but as our language is such as complex business where elements such as emotion plays such a big part , how successful can we really be in recreating meaningful experiences with machines?   Continue reading

Interaction Design considerations for creating conversations

Interaction design 

talking headsThe art of interaction design is about understanding human behaviour and how that relates to how we humans engage with technology.  It is about creating interfaces and experiences that are based on a sound understanding of technology and human behaviour and applying that knowledge to create intuitive, easy to use designs.

And interaction design principles; that is design standards and rules of thumb based on human psychology, are useful guides for us UX’ers when we are creating new experiences.  For example, knowing more about cognitive processes such as visual perception e.g. how we experience and see the world around us in patterns (Gestalt principles), helps us design interface elements such as menus, that speak to that human trait.   Interaction design principles and design standards are useful in supporting us to building interfaces that are easier for people to recognise and engage with.    However, what happens to our standards and guidelines when our ‘interactions’ turn into conversations?  Continue reading

Voice: one of the oldest and newest forms of communication.

VoiceUsing our voices to communicate with each other is one of the oldest and most most powerful forms of connection.  While using voice to communicate with machines is not something new, it’s only in recent years that  it has become common place to control a machine by talking to it.  We now regularly use voice to undertake tasks such as perform searches via OK Google, control apps via Alexa or send texts via Siri.

While voice control will not be able to take over every interaction we have with machines,  it does seem its popularity is set to continue as we see companies scramble to capitalise on this new (ish) medium.   And as voice user interfaces (VUIs) replace some of our more typical screen based interfaces,  it raises some interesting considerations for us UX’ers when thinking about designing these new experiences.

Continue reading