Martin Porcheron

Research Associate - University of Nottingham

Talking with machines? Voice UIs and the ‘conversational’ interface

In this talk, I will present some recent work we’ve been undertaking at the University of Nottingham to empirically examine how voice UIs such as the Amazon Echo actually come to be used in social settings. We recorded Echo use in participants’ homes over month-long periods, and through a conversation analytic approach we begin to show how devices are embedded in the home, and how their use is attended to in conversation by members of the home.

Our work crucially brings to the fore issues of how users deal with and reason about responses from the device, how collaboration with devices is woven into the ongoing activities in the home, and how the notion of ‘having a conversation with a device’ is perhaps a misspecification of the interaction.

About the speaker:

I am a Research Associate in the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham, currently involved with the Autonomous Internet of Things project. This project, through ethnography and design, aims to understand the implications of what it means to live with internet-connected technologies such as smart fridges and sensors in our everyday lives.

My undergraduate degree was in Computer Science and AI, however with my PhD I shifted my focus onto examining everyday social interactions that occur with and around smart technology use, with a preference to informing design. My research thus far has focused on examining how we make use of devices such as smartphones while socialising together in a pub and more recently voice-based devices like the Amazon Echo in multi-activity multi-party settings like the home. My work is typically ethnographic, where I seek to audio/video record users and perform a conversation analytic-driven approach to unpacking what happens to identify meaningful implications for design.

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