Video-ethnographic studies of the interaction with and the use of digital voice assistants at home - Naver Labs Europe

NAVER LABS Europe is hosting a guest from Orange Lab who will speak about their respective work on visual localization.

The seminar run from 11am to 12pm. Please register online

Date: 24th May 2019

Speaker: Moustafa Zouinar, Researcher & associate Professor at Orange & CNAM, Paris, France.Orange logo

Abstract: Since 2015, we are witnessing a massive development and diffusion of domestic Voice Assistants (VA) like Amazon Echo or Google Home. VA, which take the form of speakers that include a voice user interface, are presented by their promoters as systems that can facilitate domestic inhabitants’ daily lives through the use of speech. These devices offer a large number of services, both in-house and/or third-party. For example, they allow users to play media content (music, radio, video), search for information on internet, or receive news updates by interacting with the device through voice. These devices also have integrated support for home automation (control of home appliances like light, heating systems, etc.). This diffusion raises a number of questions about the usage of these devices: How do house occupants interact with them? How do they appropriate them? How do they use them and what for? How do VA affect their daily activities?
The presentation will shed some light on these questions, on the basis of a series of naturalistic video-ethnographic research studies that were conducted between 2015 and 2018 in France. A first study dealt with the study of the use of the first English-speaking assistants launched on the American market in 2015 (Amazon Echo and Ivee). A second study focused on a French-speaking experimental VA prototype developed by Orange. In these first studies, home participants were asked to test the devices during several weeks. The release in France of Google Home in 2017, then Alexa in 2018, allowed us in a third study to extend the research to households that had acquired these assistants (following a purchase or an offer). These studies enabled us to constitute a unique and large corpus of video data that show how people use and interact with VA in their homes. These data have been supplemented by interviews without and with self-confrontation to the videos. Overall, 23 homes participated to these studies. Drawing on conversational analysis, the presentation will examine the structure and the dynamics of the interactions between the users and the VAs. It will also show how the house occupants appropriate these devices through time. Another issue that will be examined has to do with the consequences of the use of VAs on the organization of the occupants’ practices at a collective level.


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