Lets remember the lessons from the Xerox Star The Star was all about having a

Lets remember the lessons from the xerox star the

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Let’s remember the lessons from the Xerox Star. The Star was all about having a real-use context (office work) and identifying an appropriate set of user tasks. Phones are primarily about communicating using a variety of media (sound, images, text) and to an increasing extent about sharing and archiving those media. To support and augment those communication services, we need some knowledge of what’s “in” those media, which is exactly a machine perception task. Furthermore, if phones are to provide other services (besides communication) to users, they also need to interpret the user’s intent through whatever interfaces the phone possesses. I already remarked on users’ toils with phone menus and buttons, while at the same time the phone is a beautifully evolved speech platform. Speech interfaces do indeed look like a great choice. They continue to improve in performance, but the state of the art is much better than people realize. Until last year, like most HCI researchers, I was skeptical about the value of speech interfaces in HCI. But then I saw a Samsung phone (P207) shipping with large- vocabulary speech recognition and getting very good user reviews in all kinds of publications (including the hard-to-impress business market). I also taught a class on medical technologies and had a chance to meet with many caregivers. There is already a large speech industry in medicine, and it is widely seen as one of the key technologies moving forward (it has probably already eclipsed “office ASR” and is a significant par t of the speech recognition industry overall). I had committed the cardinal sin of generalizing experience from a technology in one context (VUIs in the office) to its application in a different context. It’s the technology - in-context complex that matters. ASR-on-phones and ASR-in-medicine are brand new markets. Their users don’t know or care about the history of speech in the office. They just buy it and use it, and they either like it (so far, so good) or they don’t. My only direct experience with speech interfaces was with the burgeoning automated call-center industry, which had been quite bad. But after learning more about the state of the art (Randy Allen Harris’s Voice Interaction Design or Blade Kotelly’s The Art and Business of Speech Recognition are excellent guides), I realized that there are many superb examples of voice interface design. It’s a lot like Web sites and
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GUIs in the 1980s. The practice of human-centered user interface design was not widely known back then, but as the HCI discipline grew both in academia and industry, best practices spread. Products that didn’t follow a good user -centered process were quickly displaced by competitors that did. There is an excellent set of user-centered design practices for speech interfaces that are very similar to the practices for core HCI. As yet, they aren’t widely adopted, but the differences between systems that follow them and those that don’t are so striking that this cannot last forever.
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  • Fall '17
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