T04: Voice User Interface (VUI) Design

Sunday, 23 July 2023, 13:30 - 17:30 CEST (Copenhagen)
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Markku Turunen (short bio)

Tampere University, Tampere, Finland

Biju Thankachan (short bio)

Tampere University, Tampere, Finland



In this introductory tutorial, we propose to address the most challenging issues in designing Voice User Interfaces (VUI). At the outset, we introduce the audience to the historical background of VUIs, the advantages of using voice as an interaction and the future potential of voice-based interaction. The tutorial will present design concepts of personas, prompts and prosody with reference to voice user interfaces. Practical issues related to error-handling and dialog management will be covered in the latter part of the tutorial. Finally, the tutorial will introduce voice user interface as an accessibility tool for the users.


Content and benefits:

Speech or voice has been in use as an interaction technique in many systems for nearly half a century. However, there has been a renewed interest in the field owing to emergence of smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Siri. Some of the factors that are driving the use of these devices is the increased efficiency of interpreting human speech, improved speech and natural language processing, and general advancement of artificial intelligence. In the coming days, the trajectory of the use of voice as an interaction technique seems to be assurgent.

Despite the technological advancements, designing voice user interface remains challenging due to contextual, social, and ethical reasons. Emulating the human-human communication remains the primary challenge in designing a successful voice user interface. VUIs are influenced by numerous factors such as contextual awareness (coreferencing, common ground), absence/presence of visual elements and many other factors. For routine tasks of enquiring about the weather or playing music, the system works flawlessly, however, for complex conversations many design issues are to be carefully considered.

The tutorial will present the historical background of voice user interfaces. The focus of the tutorial will be on designing persona and prompts for voice user interfaces. The participants will learn through practical examples how persona design can reflect the brand, corporate identity, and its effect on the user. Prompt design, which plays a crucial role in VUIs, is challenging as they must meet the expectations of the user and at the same time present clear options for the user to respond. The tutorial will present strategies for designing successful prompts. Finally, the tutorial will discuss the role of prosody in VUIs, and how the stress and intonation patterns can make the conversation sound natural, thereby making the VUI experience a pleasure.

The tutorial will conclude with a discussion of case-studies where VUI has been used as an accessibility tool for different categories of users.


Target Audience:

This tutorial is geared towards introducing the audience to develop applications using voice as an interface. Students, researchers, and professionals working in human-technology interaction or other similar domains with inquisitiveness for speech/voice would form the ideal pool of participants. We do not expect the participants to be familiar with speech or voice technology.


Additional platform or tools to be used by the tutors:

The tutors will be using Microsoft PowerPoint for presenting the material. Some videos and animations will be embedded in the presentation. Handouts in PDF format will be distributed to the participants.


List of materials or devices required by the participants:

Laptop for accessing the presentation and handouts.

Bio Sketches of Presenters:

Markku Turunen is a Professor of Interactive Technology at Tampere University (TAU), Finland. Currently, he is heading the Sustainable Digital Life M.Sc. program and the Pervasive Interaction (PIRG) research group at TAU. His research and teaching interests include many aspects of multimodal interfaces, including multimodal and spoken dialogue systems, novel user interfaces for mobile and pervasive computing applications, embodied and spatial interaction (e.g. gestures), user experience evaluation, interactive lighting, ICT4D, and virtual reality.

Biju Thankachan is a Doctoral Researcher at Tampere Unit for Computer-Human Interaction (TAUCHI) at Tampere University, Finland. His research focuses on designing and developing interactive solutions for emergent and remote users. His academic research is on designing and developing Voice User Interfaces in Semi-Public Spaces, especially for the elderly population from the perspective of accessibility. His other interests include Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Promoting AI for small and medium enterprises.