Chapter 4. The Emotional Aspect of Product Design

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The Emotional Aspect of Product Design

Shouting at the Voice Assistant

Back in 2016 I was working with the full-service advertising agency 72andSunny in Amsterdam and helping out on the launch campaign of Google Home in, among other countries, the UK. Fast-forward to 2019, and Google Home is now an integrated part of my own family’s home life. Even our daughter, who was born in the summer of 2017, knows what Google Home is because of the voice command “Hey Google.”

Many of the scenarios and use cases that we identified as part of the launch campaign apply to my family. Our primary use of Google Home right now is for simple things, like asking it to play music on Spotify, or to make various animal and vehicle sounds, to our daughter’s delight. But life can get complicated, and at times Google Home adds to that. Sometimes the really simple things don’t work, like Google Home misunderstanding “Turn up the volume” for “Turn off the volume,” or failing to hear when we ask it to turn off the music or turn down the volume. That causes the emotions in us to rise, particularly when things are already a bit hectic, or we’re tired.

During the launch campaign work, we kept the scenarios fairly high-level, as that’s all that was needed. Had we worked on the actual software for Google Home, it would have been a different matter. When you’re working with technologies that use sound as the primary UI for both input and output, you need ...

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