Speech input and output technology is expected to play a huge role in enabling future user interactions with computers. One of the most exciting opportunities is the potential for voice to offer access to e-content and services while people are on the move. However, automatic speech recognition systems, even with highly limited vocabularies, cannot guarantee 100% performance. Speech output can sound far from natural. Creating usable systems within these constraints remains a challenge.
This project will make an important contribution to the aim of producing more usable speech systems by creating a tool for the Subjective Assessment of Speech System Interfaces (SASSI). Many researchers and developers agree that positive user attitudes towards speech systems are vital if those systems are to succeed. Ultimately people will not use systems which they rate poorly. However, the methods currently used in subjective evaluations of speech systems are unproven in terms of their reliability and validity. The development of a proven measurement tool will have a significant impact on speech system development. It will provide a benchmark by which developers can compare their system to existing successful systems. It will allow changes in the usability of a product to be tracked through its design cycle. It will also contribute to longer term theoretical research aiming to determine which attributes of speech systems contribute to positive user attitudes. The findings of such research will allow developers to design better systems from the start.
Initial development work on SASSI has been conducted (Hone and Graham,
in press, download paper in postscript
format) while the authors were supported by previous grants from UK
government research councils. This research has produced a 34-item
questionnaire measuring six factors which are hypothesised to contribute
to user attitude towards speech recognition systems: system response
accuracy, likeability, cognitive demand, annoyance, habitability and speed.
Further work is now needed to turn this theoretical starting point into
a real, validated, score-able tool.
Further details of how the EPSRC supports collaboration between industry and academia is available from their website at: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/
For further information please contact: Dr Kate Hone, Department
of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex,
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: +44 (0) 1895 203397.