While the concept of Voice User Interfaces (VUI) has been around since the 1950s, it has mainly existed in the realms of Science Fiction – until recently. While these fantasies increasingly come to life around us – for example, virtual assistants like Alexa – the knowledge base for the technology is still narrow. The topic is complex, and the rules are still unwritten. IXDS have set out to pioneer this domain.
Machines will talk to you
Today, the idea of connected hardware extends beyond machine-to-machine communication to devices that can offer friendly conversation with us. Still, there are major questions that need to be answered: How do machines know what to say and how to say it? And when is it better for them not to talk at all?
The user at the center
Of course, speech is only one of several methods of human communication. Truly seamless communication with machines may involve a silent gesture, a spoken conversation, a typed command – or something completely different. Even communicating via thought is becoming a genuine prospect.
Smooth Voice User Interfaces are the key to a successful conversation with machines. In the field of Human Machine Interface (HMI) this is called Natural Language Interfaces/Voice User Interface.
What we’ve learned
While there are few fields as complex as human communication, we have managed to establish a set of key principles based on our learnings from many different VUI projects:
- Voice and diction of a VUI will immediately create a character of the VUI in the human mind. This will direct all future conversation.
- We need to clearly define the area of knowledge a machine is designed to operate in.
- Connecting a VUI to big service offerings like Amazon or Apple will significantly alter conversations, as the range of reactions of the VUI will grow, lending a more natural tone to the interactions.
- Machines need to understand both the explicit and implicit signals humans send in order to offer a natural-feeling style of communication.
- Machines need to know how to express their reaction accordingly to create intuitive communication.
Eventually, this means machines will need to become empathic – a task that will keep us busy for some time.
The challenge ahead
The next step for the industry will be to develop and improve Voice User Interfaces, and to establish guidelines for standard platforms that react to a specific ruleset. To date, no universal framework for future VUI applications exists. Once aligned, successful VUI solutions will be able to learn from each other and in turn accelerate the improvement of human-machine communication.
Sharing our insights
For years, IXDS provided a platform for innovators to jointly create solutions for today’s challenges. Working on human-oriented, natural-feeling smart interfaces has always been one of our core assets. We focus on both the user needs as well as the brand character design to create the smoothest holistic interaction experience that a machine is capable of.
Meet our experts
We strive to stay ahead of the curve on Voice User Interfaces and Natural Language Interfaces, and are always keen to learn from our strong network. We recently enjoyed compelling discussions at our exclusive Pioneers Dinner in Munich, and we're always presenting and discussing new possibilities at our monthly Pre-Work Talks.
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What we do
At IXDS, we work on solutions for some of the most complex challenges of the near future. The topic of Voice-User-Interfaces is highly complex and the rules are still unwritten. IXDS is here, to pioneer it. We developed a deep understanding of the demands and the possible impact of seamless Voice User Interfaces and smooth Natural Language Interaction. When machines start to really understand human intentions, possibilities will skyrocket.