Interface in Our Ears
Abstract: One of the current trends amongst the major software companies is Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA), such as Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This market is growing rapidly, and the assistants are getting smarter and becoming more capable. However, in this kind of rapid expansion it is easy to lose focus on the user, which may lead to the end user discarding the VPA as another software gimmick. In this Master’s Thesis I focus on the interface in our ears by using various methods in interaction design and user experience in conjunction with VPAs to investigate new ways of developing the digital assistant. One way to develop VPAs could be to introduce stacked commands so that VPAs can collect and perform several commands at once, giving users more information whilst still being efficient. The feature of stacked commands is where VPAs can perform multiple actions with just one command by performing each command option one after another or by “stacking”. This feature of stack commands can give users quick status reports or seemingly perform multiple tasks simultaneously. This thesis illustrates one way to utilise the stack command in the field of home systems. An early concept prototype was developed and tested how this feature could be displayed, giving visual and audio feedback to the user. The prototype received positive responses during the testing phase and showed that participants preferred this new kind of interaction with the VPA. The concept of stacked commands can be extended to, but is not limited by, homes, cars and workplaces. A market driven development could further this concept to any eyes-and/or-hands-busy environment where voice activated VPAs would be deemed necessary.
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