VA-People, Experiences, Practices and Routines

Project: Other Government Institutions

Project Details

Description

Rationale and relevance: No other technology is spreading as rapidly in the home as voice assistants (VAs). Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana have conquered living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens by becoming accessible via smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home. The few existing surveys about the use of VAs in Switzerland have been conducted by consultants, tech companies or providers and have primarily a business perspective. Insights into the use of VAs in home settings are badly missing. Thus the main goals of the project are 1) to achieve an in-depth understanding why people install VAs in their homes and how they are used; 2) to investigate the impact VAs have on everyday practices and routines as well as on the interaction and social relationships between the members of a household; 3)
to determine users’ concerns about privacy and data security associated with the use of VAs and how they deal with them; 4) to propose innovative design responses to the challenges identified; 5) to increase the general awareness about the social, societal and philosophical implications of VAs and contribute to guidelines and policy recommendations concerning the development, design and deployment of VAs.
Approach: The project will conduct an interdisciplinary study of how people shape and organize their domestic lives in the presence of VAs. We will build on extensive preliminary work which resulted in 500 student journals of user activity data collected with a tool developed by the project partner LUASA. An extended version of the tool will be used by 100 LUASA students over three semester courses to provide additional data. The project will also conduct in-home studies with 20 participants and involve focus groups from all Swiss language regions. Data and text analysis algorithms will play a crucial role in gleaning relevant insights from the empirical data. Activity Theory will serve as the theoretical underpinning of our study, supplemented by concepts from Domestication Theory to investigate routines, rules and patterns in the adoption of VAs in households. Approaches from Design Thinking will help address the challenges
identified in our study and to suggest alternative design variants.
Impact: The study will generate novel insights into the emerging issues associated with VA use in Switzerland and beyond. It will advance the state of the art through its focus on the domestic set-up, user experience, and ethical issues. The scientific findings will be translated into guidance for users, developers, designers and service providers in business and industry. In collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation, the research team will continuously share and discuss its findings with an international community of experts.
Interdisciplinary Consortium: The project is co-led by experts from two universities of applied sciences (Lucerne and St. Gallen) and brings together researchers with expertise in human-centred design, human-computer interaction, home automation, digital services, ambient assisted living, computer science, behavioural economics, socio-informatics, Open IoT, and health. An international leading expert on responsible design, creative technologies and ethics from the University of Dundee will complement the project lead and guarantee a broader impact of the project results.
AcronymVA-PEPR
StatusActive
Effective start/end date01/01/202031/12/2024