Academic underpinnings and practical training for voice interaction design

roundtable – 90 min | Feb 4 – 13:00

What formal knowledge and practical training is required to help people design the voice interfaces of today and tomorrow? What would a degree in Voice IxD look like?

Voice interfaces are popping up all over the place–on devices we carry and wear, in our cars, in our homes, at work–in all kinds of places, indoors and out. And it seems they will become increasingly common as time goes on, for as many people say, “The technology will only get better.” Yet for those who have been working in the space for a long time know, the larger challenges are not in the technologies that make interacting through voice possible (as amazing as those technologies may be), but rather are in the design of voice experiences themselves.

One challenge for voice interaction design (voice IxD) stems from the fact that people know how to talk. Thus when some are tasked with the design of a voice interface, they assume they can jump right in, come up with anything, maybe test it out, and everything will be alright. Others may take a more formal approach, using knowledge and practices acquired through formal learning in a variety of fields to help with defining processes and making design decisions. And in practice, variations on these two approaches are often blended.

In this landscape, if we were to create a degree in voice IxD, what would it look like? What formal knowledge and practical training is required to help people design the voice interfaces of today and tomorrow? This roundtable discussion will seek to define the essential layers that make up a voice experience and to map what academic knowledge and practical training is required in the education of those who want to be proficient in the craft of voice interaction design.

Mary Parks

Mary Parks
Product Designer, contracting @ Facebook Applied Machine Learning & AI Research

About the speaker

Mary Parks

Mary Parks

Product Designer, contracting @ Facebook Applied Machine Learning & AI Research

I have over 30 years of experience working in applied linguistics, the last 18 designing voice, multimodal, and conversational experiences. I’m currently working under contract as a Product Designer with Facebook’s Applied Machine Learning & AI Research design team. I’ve led design at Bay Area startups VocalPoint (acquired by the Italian company Loquendo) and TuVox, at the industry-leading speech technology company Nuance, and at Honeywell.

I frequently mentor newer designers and regularly present workshops on voice and conversational design. I also study physical theater and occasionally appear in solo and ensemble performances.

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