Voice and Dictation

Voice and dictation are a tricker form of input, and normally only employed at the operating system level. Voice and dictation allows you to directly command digital content. Voice input can be a natural way to communicate your intent. Unfortunately because of the lack of visual affordances, this can easily confuse users who are unaware of the proper prompt to say.

Advantages of Voice Input

Voice input is a natural way to communicate our intents. Using voice is also a convenient input method when we have our arms full or are multi-tasking. On devices where typing on a keyboard is difficult, voice dictation can be an efficient alternative way to input text.

Challenges for Voice Input and Dictation

While voice input is great for many different applications, it also faces several challenges. Voice is only as powerful as the system behind it, so an individual may say "louder" but the system won't be able to tell how much louder is enough noise. This also routinely gets in the way of object manipulation. Voice and dictation often incorrectly hears or misinterprets commands and speech.
Voice input in shared spaces Voice may not be socially acceptable in spaces that you share with others. Here are a few examples:
  • The user may not want to disturb others (for example, in a quiet library or shared office)
  • Users may feel awkward being seen talking to themselves in public,
  • A user may feel uncomfortable dictating a personal or confidential message (including passwords) while others are listening
Voice input of unique or unknown words Difficulties for voice input also come when users are dictating words that may be unknown to the system, such as nicknames, certain slang words, or abbreviations.
Learning voice commands While the ultimate goal is to naturally converse with your system, often apps still rely on specific pre-defined voice commands. A challenge associated with a significant set of voice commands is how to teach them without overloading the user and how to help the user to keep them.