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I recently got to design an app for Google Glass, and I was wondering: how much users really like that they have to speak out loud to have control over the device or to undertake an action? Are there any tests that shows how much confortable the average user is with the voice control, how much does he likes/hates it?

I crave tests! Can be anything: neuroscientific tests, psychology tests, focus groups.. whatever has shown some indication in one way or another.

  • I think you also have to account for differences between individual users. Some people (and maybe more than just the developers) obviously like them. At the other extreme, there are people like me who would never use one. – jamesqf Apr 29 '15 at 19:00
  • Good question. I personally loath the attempts with call centre software to attempt to understand speach and would much rather just listen to some options and press the right number. – PhillipW May 5 '15 at 9:09
  • Voice alone won't do it. Voice with gestures should cover about 99% of what a typical user wants to do. (People love to point.) – shawnhcorey Aug 24 '15 at 12:46
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This is a great summary of why VUIs will never entirely win the day:

[I]t's not that voice is useless. It's just that it is often a secondary interaction mode when additional media are available. It's much easier to pick out the desired item from a list when the list is displayed on a monitor than when it's read aloud. Voice is a one-dimensional medium with zero persistence; a monitor is a two-dimensional medium that combines persistence (you can look at it for as long as you please) with selective updating (you can type a value into a field anywhere on the screen without changing the rest of the screen).

While the source is reputable and research-focused, the article itself does not reference any specific research.

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I havent found any articles or research which shows whether users like it or hate it but studies have shown that voice alone can be a frustrating experience at times due to the lack of clarity and affirmation of the task being asked. To quote this article

Our research To answer these questions, we ran a simple user experience study on popular smartphone personal assistants Siri, Google Now, and Cortana.

We asked nine participants (three using each system) to set up dinner and a movie with a friend using their voice as much as possible.

The tasks started off simple: looking up the evening’s weather and (if it was going to be cold) instructions on how to tie a scarf.

With regards to the task being a success,

Step 1: “What’s the weather going to be like tonight?”

The stereotypical use case for voice commands, asking for the evening’s weather was natural and simple. Even though participants chose different commands ranging from the abrupt “Weather” to the more personal “Is it going to be cold?”, all of their devices presented them with a well-formatted display of the day’s weather forecast, even reading the forecast aloud in some cases.

However it always didnt go well

Asking for instructions on how to tie a scarf did not provide the same immediate satisfaction, showing only the results from a web search. While the results were relevant to the question, the answers were still a tap away.

All participants found they were unable to ask multiple questions in single command. While the solution was simply to split their question up, the extra step disrupted the fluidity of the interaction.

Similarly there were other issues as well to quote the article

Moving on to the brunt of the dinner and movie plan, participants encountered a variety of obstacles in moving from one part of the plan to the next.

The process began by asking their device for “movie times” or to “take me to a movie.” Much like the weather, participants received a well-formatted display of local movies and showtimes. However, getting more specific required manual selection or another search, which proved to be difficult to do through voice alone.

Having selected a theater, participants moved on to find a restaurant near the theater. While it was easy for users to find a restaurant near their current location, it was more difficult to find a restaurant near a different location or landmark.

Other issues that came up were while trying to deal with unique names which are not normally found in the dictionary

Texting friends
Once the participants had set up the plan for their night, the final step was to send the details to a friend. Most participants found this easy, asking their device to “text [name]” or “send a message to [name]”, which brought up a message dialog prompting them to speak their message aloud. Many were used to doing this, but still encountered frustration in cases where the systems balked at uncommon names or cut off long sentences while they were being spoken. Repairing these misunderstood messages involved too much repetition and back-and-forth for some participants, who had negative experiences and commented that they would rather just send a text message manually.


Though the above user study is not definitive , here are some suggestions.

  1. Provide alternative input information methods which allow the user to edit the request
  2. Be aware of the constraints faced in places with a lot of noise or unique cases such as being able to text a friend with a unique name
  3. Allow users to break down their tasks into simpler activities which can drive greater clarity

Here are some links worth reading

The effect of ‘Digital Assistants’ on UX and UI

Speaking in Context: Designing Voice Interfaces

Teens Embrace Voice Search, Many Adults Feel “Like Geeks” Using It

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Sorry I don't have tests for you but in the meanwhile let me start with this based on my gut feeling:

1) if your app for google glass supports or extends actions that are about on-the-go, contextual. I feel this it will provide a good user experience.

2) Average user might not be comfortable with the voice control / searches when sharing sensitive information (healthcare, security info, FB comments). Conflict is sharing private information in a public setting. (My hunch).

3) Voice interactions in general, I feel are NOT suited for "significant interaction". They are best used for micro interactions and then followed by other form of input like typing. If the commands are smaller and natural that helps.

if you can explain little more about your app (context and intents of voice control) that might help to answer more specific.

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