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 Persona Craze Nears an End

An over-the-top persona could push users over the edge.

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.

A Fool's Revenge

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…

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 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 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." …

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.

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.

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.

What We Need Is A Killer App

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.

Repeat or Not Repeat

What is the proper role that repetition should play in a voice user interface? This question frequently arises when designing a VUI, particularly if the VUI is intended to simulate "natural speech" or "conversational dialog". The common assumption is that repetition is bad because it doesn't sound natural and it occurs only infrequently in human-to-human conversation.

Will Unified Messaging be the Beachhead Opportunity for Conversational Voice User Interfaces?

That speech technologies represent a market poised for tremendous growth is scarcely subject to debate. The precise form that the emerging market will take is still, however, somewhat unknown. Some believe that speech application users will demand essentially unrestricted conversational user interfaces. But is this belief supported by the facts?

Is Your VUI Out of Tune?

Testing prompts for functional effectiveness is a fundamental tuning activity

Do Cultural Differences Make a Difference?

A common experience unites all telephone users around the world

The Alpha Bail

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.

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.