Speed Dating with Voice User Interfaces: Understanding How Families Interact and Perceive Voice User Interfaces in a Group Setting


Photograph taken by Anastasia K. Ostrowski; edited by MIT News

Photograph taken by Anastasia K. Ostrowski; edited by MIT News

Ostrowski, A. K., Fu, J., Zygouras, V., Park, H. W., & Breazeal, C. Speed Dating with Voice User Interfaces (VUIs): Understanding How Families Interact and Perceive VUIs in a Group Setting. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 375.


As voice-user interfaces (VUIs), such as smart speakers like Amazon Alexa or social robots like Jibo, enter multi-user environments like our homes, it is critical to understand how group members perceive and interact with these devices. VUIs engage socially with users, leveraging multi-modal cues including speech, graphics, expressive sounds, and movement. The combination of these cues can affect how users perceive and interact with these devices. Through a set of three elicitation studies, we explore family interactions (N = 34 families, 92 participants, ages 4–69) with three commercially available VUIs with varying levels of social embodiment. The motivation for these three studies began when researchers noticed that families interacted differently with three agents when familiarizing themselves with the agents and, therefore, we sought to further investigate this trend in three subsequent studies designed as a conceptional replication study. Each study included three activities to examine participants’ interactions with and perceptions of the three VUIS in each study, including an agent exploration activity, perceived personality activity, and user experience ranking activity. Consistent for each study, participants interacted significantly more with an agent with a higher degree of social embodiment, i.e., a social robot such as Jibo, and perceived the agent as more trustworthy, having higher emotional engagement, and having higher companionship. There were some nuances in interaction and perception with different brands and types of smart speakers, i.e., Google Home versus Amazon Echo, or Amazon Show versus Amazon Echo Spot between the studies. In the last study, a behavioral analysis was conducted to investigate interactions between family members and with the VUIs, revealing that participants interacted more with the social robot and interacted more with their family members around the interactions with the social robot. This paper explores these findings and elaborates upon how these findings can direct future VUI development for group settings, especially in familial settings.

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