Could the HCI industry be headed down a blind alley?
There’s an awful lot of research going into voice-driven interfaces, on the grounds that that’s where we’re headed. But Ben Schneiderman, the HCI guru from which many of us first learned about the subject, thinks it may all be a waste of time. According to the Washington Post:
“Hollywood and the image of HAL gave us this dream, this hope, this vision, but the reality is quite different,” says Shneiderman, a computer science professor and well-known researcher, sitting in a College Park office more cluttered with books than computers. “It turns out speaking uses auditory memory, which is in the same space as your short-term and working memory,” he adds.
What that means, basically, is that it’s hard to speak and think at the same time. Shneiderman says researchers in his computer science lab discovered through controlled experiments that when you tell your computer to “page down” or “italicize that word” by speaking aloud, you’re gobbling up precious chunks of memory — leaving you with little brainpower to focus on the task at hand. It’s easier to type or click a mouse while thinking about something else because hand-eye coordination uses a different part of the brain, the researchers concluded.