Words Are All I Have: Exploring the Power of Voice Interaction

Words Are All I Have: Exploring the Power of Voice Interaction

Designwhine Magazine Feature Words Are All I Have

Already on the rise, Voice Interaction has been pushed further by COVID-19 when the focus is on touchless interfaces

It’s becoming increasingly common to see people use their voice to interact with their devices both on the street with their smartphones and at home with their smart speakers.
We are also seeing that technologies such as biometrics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are having a greater impact, and even, in the current circumstances with the Coronavirus, their development is accelerating.

Avoiding contagion when paying with your card using biometric payments, teleworking in confinement and signing contracts by voice, are examples that will gradually become more common.

If we put together the current situation, with the ways of interacting and the technological advances we see that the relationship between human/machine is undergoing changes, the physical interaction is reduced and the use of digital buttons on the screens are eliminated as much as possible. This is what we call: Buttonless.

Voice First: Voice interaction has become necessary

We must keep in mind that using the voice to interact, even before the pandemic, is part of our daily routine. Devices like Alexa, Siri, Google Home, virtual assistants in cars, voice mail on WhatsApp allow us to communicate and manage our device accurately and with great precision. This interaction by voice is called “Voice First”.

Buttonless Experiences in Mobile

With regard to smartphones and computers, new ways of interacting without using a mouse, keyboard or finger are appearing every day. Sometimes we use our voice, other times new touch gestures or sometimes it is not even necessary to touch the screen, as is the case with “Distance selection” technology that allows you to select options on the screen without having to touch the screen, a solution of current interest to prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses. Could we imagine applications or websites without buttons, screens so intuitive that just by looking at them we would know how to act?

We’re not there yet, but let’s look at some examples such as Instagram’s button-free solution. In their designs, you jump from one story to another by swiping or tapping on your own photos and icons, even double-tapping to make a “like” on the photo you like.
Other cases are Apple, Samsung and Google that bet on clean screens without many functionalities where the user’s “journey” is clearly defined by the most important and necessary interactions. In relation to e-commerce, applications are appearing where the “Add to cart” button has been removed and replaced by a “Drag & drop” directly from the product to the shopping cart.

Advantages of Buttonless in Mobile

By focusing more on tactile gestures when designing screens and not so much on buttons, we can achieve a more human interaction, where the user feels more identified with the screen and we improve their experience with the application and therefore with the brand. We can also prevent errors and mistakes, since with fewer buttons and less functionality we achieve that the user has a clear action, the “Call to action”, which he has to take for each screen he navigates.

Biometrics simplify the user experience

Another technological advance to take into account is biometrics where interacting with a machine without touching the screen is a reality. In recent months, with the COVID-19 present in our lives, we are seeing a decline in cash payments, the cards are living their best moment but there are still phases of the processes that are not 100% contactless, is the case of entering the PIN in the payment POS. How good it would be to eliminate physical contact to make payments, open automatic locks without keys, interact with vending machines that remember your previous orders and anticipate your request. In general we make the experience faster, easier and safer by avoiding friction points.

Buttonless experience in TV

All these trends, of the use of voice, fewer buttons to interact, are also having an impact on the way we use the TV.
Being able to integrate with devices like Alexa and Google Home eliminates the negative experience of using remote control when searching for content and allows you to use your voice for faster and error-free interaction. In the case of Apple TV, it allows you to say the password by voice, pronouncing individual characters, without having to type it.

Buttonless experiences in home automation

In these last months of confinement, we are becoming more homely than usual.

Here we have the home controllers, such as Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub, where the visual environments are practically messages that appear after giving them voice commands. You can use them as a newsreader, check the weather, control the house, cook and there is no physical interaction with the device.

The way to communicate, see each other and be able to telework is through video calls and devices such as Facebook Portal the camera moves sideways and enlarges the image automatically without having to do anything and without buttons on the screen.

By using fewer buttons we generate cleaner designs and leave space for content, focusing the user’s attention on the information that is really of interest.

Health when interacting, a new variable to take into account

In the current situation, and perhaps more so now than ever, the digitalization of the customer experience is one of the main challenges any company faces. Service and process design, user research, interface design and the application of the latest technological advances are key factors to take into account in any business project. Applying techniques such as Buttonless, we take a step forward and improve the user experience by providing prevention, security, simplicity and we manage to connect more emotionally with the user.

This article was last updated on November 27, 2023; Originally published on September 23, 2020

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Manuel Medina
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