Speech Technology Magazine

The Human Factor

The Characters You Meet in VUI Design

Working effectively with the other personas can lead to a smoother sales pitch and buy-in process.
The Human Factor, Posted 05 Sep 2007

The Persona Craze Nears an End

An over-the-top persona could push users over the edge.
The Human Factor, Posted 01 Jun 2007

Do Cultural Differences Make a Difference?

A common experience unites all telephone users around the world
The Human Factor, Posted 01 May 2007

Is Your VUI Out of Tune?

Testing prompts for functional effectiveness is a fundamental tuning activity
The Human Factor, Posted 01 Apr 2007

Aligning Customer and Company Goals Through VUI

Reducing the cost of customer service should come second to keeping the customer happy
The Human Factor, Posted 01 Mar 2007

The Pains of Main Are Plainly VUI's Bane

Automated systems are becoming more prevalent, and the debate between directed dialogues and natural language interfaces is heating up
The Human Factor, Posted 30 Jan 2007

The gethuman Factor

Much of the tone of SpeechTEK 2006, held in New York this summer, was set by its opening keynote address. In the presentation, Paul English, founder of gethuman.com, outlined some of the desirable characteristics of a "gethuman standard" for self-service systems.
The Human Factor, Posted 09 Nov 2006

The More Things Change...

Recently, I had a customer service problem that obliged me to call customer service. I heard the company had recently implemented a speech recognition self-service system and I was curious to see how converting to speech would improve its self-service process. I was shocked when my call was answered with the following: "Thank you for calling the Acme Company. Please pay careful attention because our menu options have recently changed."
The Human Factor, Posted 12 Sep 2006

Predictability and Prompt Variations

The Human Factor, Posted 03 Jul 2006

Detecting Emotion: Prevention Is Better Than Cure

I am not sure how much progress has been made in detecting all possible emotional states in users, but detecting anger can be relatively easy.
The Human Factor, Posted 08 May 2006

A Fool's Revenge

The Human Factor, Posted 01 Mar 2006

The Alpha Bail

The Human Factor, Posted 01 Jan 2006

Speech Recognition and Telegraphic Speech

What Is Telegraphic Speech?Telegraphic speech is typically observed in language-learning toddlers and people who are re-learning to speak after having suffered some neurological trauma such as a stroke. It is characterized by minimalistic utterances which often are no more than noun-verb combinations. For instance, a baby might say, “give juice,” as opposed to a more grammatically complete and socially appropriate utterance, such as, “Can you give me some juice, please?” …
The Human Factor, Posted 07 Nov 2005

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Bad User!It is not at all uncommon to be scolded by an application in the Dual Tone Multi-frequency (DTMF) world. To wit: System: To do [this], press one. To do [that], press, two.User: (presses DTMF three)System: That is an incorrect response! And while the tendency to scold is less prevalent in the speech world, it has not entirely disappeared. Consider the following: …
The Human Factor, Posted 30 Aug 2005

The Cumulative Effect of Recognition Failures

"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative."-H. G. Wells <@SM><@SM>The Good News<@SM><@SM>Everyone in the industry is well aware that current speech technologies are undeniably impressive. Speech recognition accuracy rates have been very high for some time and there have been dramatic improvements in ASR robustness (the ability to recognize utterances under unfavorable conditions) during the last few years. The news might be exclusively good if only a high speech recognition accuracy rate was…
The Human Factor, Posted 20 Jun 2005

Speech Recognition in Education: Unexploited Opportunities

Approximately 98 Percent-plus Accuracy? Most everybody in the speech industry has heard vendor claims of 95-98 percent-plus speech recognition accuracy. These claims, if slightly qualified, are undeniably true. In fact, using a good quality microphone in a quiet test environment, I have repeatedly obtained 100 percent speech recognition accuracy with several of the major ASR engines.
The Human Factor, Posted 26 Apr 2005

The Legal Threat to the Effective VUI

Nobody likes lawyers - as they say - at least not unless or until they find themselves in need of one. Lawyers bear the brunt of numerous jokes and insults and their professional class is consistently judged to be among the least esteemed in our culture.
The Human Factor, Posted 06 Mar 2005

The Impotence of Being Earnest

Famous Last Words<@SM>Have you ever dialed a company, had your call answered and then heard something like this? <@SM><@SM>"Thank you for calling ACME Corporation. Your call is very important to us…." <@SM><@SM>How about this? <@SM><@SM>"In order to ensure the most efficient resolution to your problem, you can always visit us at our easy-to-use Web site 24 hours a day at double-u double-u double-u dot ACME dot com." …
The Human Factor, Posted 06 Jan 2005

Failure to Test Detestable

Dr. Walter Rolandi, founder and owner of The Voice User Interface Company, reasons that "validating a call flow is not a particularly expensive or time-consuming endeavor," therefore, failing to do so is a sign of reckless behavior.
The Human Factor, Posted 23 Nov 2004

Improving Customer Service with Speech

Dr. Rolandi explains why too often designers forget that nobody seeks customer service unless they have a problem. They want something or they need something. The advantage of speech, now being evinced in many well-designed VUIs, is that it can solve people's problems as fast as or faster than human-to-human interaction. And that can translate into a considerable improvement in customer service.
The Human Factor, Posted 01 Nov 2004

Rolandi’s Razor

Anyone who has ever taken a philosophy course has probably heard of the medieval theologian, William of Occam, a Franciscan monk who led a troubled life. Mostly because his teachings seemed to aid and abet some theological enemies of the papacy, Occam frequently found himself at odds with the powers that be.
The Human Factor, Posted 08 Jul 2004

What's Natural about Natural Language Processing?

Oh No!I inwardly wince every time a client announces that he wants me to design a “natural language” voice user interface. What follows is often an awkward series of questions that is intended to find out just what the client means by “natural language.” The answers clients provide can represent a range of possibilities that span, on a scale of complexity, from a basic verbal command and control system all the way up to an unbounded conversational dialog with a machine possessing the verbal skills of William F. Buckley, Jr.
The Human Factor, Posted 24 May 2004

Frequency of Use and Design

The Human Factor, Posted 08 Mar 2004

Casting Users in Parts as Parts

Thinking of users as “parts” is actually a natural and understandable inclination: When we think about systems, we cannot help but think systematically.
The Human Factor, Posted 09 Jan 2004

The Common Causes of VUI Infirmities

While most of us know the various things we should and should not do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, relatively few of us consistently comply. Such is also the case in the Voice User Interface (VUI) design world. Best design practices, for the most part, are publicly available and widely known. Yet, and perhaps for the same reason that some people think they are above the rules of diet and exercise, many Interactive Voice Response (IVR) designers seem to see themselves as immune to the illnesses that invariably plague poorly designed voice applications.
The Human Factor, Posted 25 Nov 2003

Threats to Objectivity in Usability Testing

Most speech industry people concede the value of usability testing. It is widely appreciated how usability testing, particularly early on in the dialog design stage, can reduce usability problems, costs and headaches further down the road. The idea, of course, is to get an objective, unbiased assessment of a design before committing all of its particulars to code. This sounds simple enough. But obtaining objectivity is not always as simple as it seems and if the usability test plan or procedure is fundamentally biased, why should we bother to test at all?
The Human Factor, Posted 25 Aug 2003

What We Need Is A Killer App

The Human Factor, Posted 01 Jul 2003

When You Don't Know When You Don't Know

During a break at a recent speech technology conference, a group of attendees were discussing the importance of learnability in their application designs. One participant advocated a particular method for classifying and dealing with recognition results as helpful.The scheme divided user utterances into three basic categories: high confidence matches; low-to-medium confidence matches; and “no-match” or out-of-grammar (OOG) utterances.
The Human Factor, Posted 30 Jun 2003

What is Usability Testing?

Looking around the industry, it is apparent that "usability testing" means a number of different things to a number of different people. While there are consistencies in methods and techniques among many speech industry usability analysts, there is no obvious consensus as to the purpose of usability testing or on any particular way to conduct usability tests.
The Human Factor, Posted 01 Jun 2003