Voice Activated: Interface Design and the Psychology of Enjoyment, Trust, and Sales

Clifford Nass
Department of Communication, Stanford University

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University December 1, 2000

Humans are built to understand and interpret speech -- even one day after birth, brains respond differently to speech than to other types of sounds.

In this talk, I'll review a series of recent results, inspired by the evolutionary psychology of speech, to understand how people respond to and how to design voice user interfaces (VUI). Among the questions to be answered are: do synthesized voices have gender and emotion, and how does this influence trust? When should voice interfaces say "I"? When should recorded and synthesized voices be mixed? Is voice casting important?

Clifford Nass is a professor of communication at Stanford University, with courtesy appointments in Science, Technology, and Society, Sociology, and Symbolic Systems. He is co-director of the Interface Lab at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. Nass is the author of the in-progress "Voice Activated: Interface Design and the Psychology of Enjoyment, Trust, and Sales," "The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places" (with Byron Reeves; Cambridge University Press) and over 50 articles on human-technology interaction and statistical methodology. He has consulted on the design of over 100 media products, for companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, General Magic, Finali, British Cable and Wireless, and OMRON.


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