The four demographics that voice offers unique benefits to
What got me into design was the ability to design meaningful products and services, which is one of the reasons I am excited about voice. The beauty of voice assistants is that there is a minimal learning curve and lots of untapped potential. Voice offers a huge opportunity to make life easier whether we are learning or aging. It’s 3x faster to say English words than to type them, and 2.8x faster in Mandarin. Although we all have a lot to gain from these advances, four demographics have a bit more to gain: kids, parents, the elderly, and the physically impaired. After all, voice is best utilized when solving real problems, and voice offers unique solutions to challenges faced by these groups. Here’s how:
challenges: limited screen time, cannot read/write
Kids, especially those who cannot read or write yet, now have access to infinite amounts of information with voice assistants. We’ve seen the negative impact screens have on the developing brain. Being a screen-less interface, voice allows for natural creativity and encourages curiosity. (Note that in 2018, Amazon launched a special Echo smart speaker for children and has adapted Alexa for kids as well.)
challenges: multi-tasking, time starved
Parents use voice assistants more than nonparents do. And it’s easy to see why: multi-tasking moms and dads can complete tasks while doing other things. When your hands are full, you don’t have to wait to get your phone out and look something up or capture information. New moms in particular have a lot to gain from voice technologies. Being able to track and log information is something that voice handles exceptionally well.
challenges: not tech savvy, bad memory, limited mobility
Those of us that grew up with laptops and smartphones have a comfort level with technology that not everyone possesses, which is especially true with the elderly. But with voice, the elderly don’t have to learn a new technologies. Instead, they can converse.
In fact, the aging population is driving massive advances in AI. Smart tech for the elderly is disrupting care and health industries, as well as adding connectivity. Voice also has the potential to improve mental health by instilling a sense of autonomy and independence. Voice can even be a tool for treating dementia.
challenges: dexterity, mobility
Vision or physical impairments make completing everyday tasks more challenging. Voice assistants are making important steps towards more accessible UIs, from placing phone calls and texting caretakers to unlocking front doors to ordering groceries. Voice is able to empower individuals through connected home devices to speak commands and automate their home, which is now no longer a luxury. A number of perspectives have been written about the role voice can play to help people with disabilities. Here is one example for further reading.
These four groups all have unique needs. Designers need to design for each one. Don’t design for everyone. If you do that, you design for no one. Moonshot works with enterprises to develop lovable products that use voice-based technology. We employ a methodology known as FUEL to rapidly build prototypes and then scale them into full-blown products. In our white paper Creating a Voice-Based Product with a Design Sprint we give you a high-level insight into how we’d develop a lovable product with voice. Check it out, and contact us if you need help getting started embracing voice.