Smit Desai's Preliminary Examination

Smit Desai

PhD student Smit Desai will present his proposal defense, "Designing metaphor-fluid voice user interfaces." Desai's preliminary examination committee includes Professor Michael Twidale, chair and co-director of research; Professor Christopher Peter Lueg; Assistant Professor Jessie Chin, co-director of research; and Associate Professor Benjamin Cowan.

Abstract: Metaphors play a vital role in knowledge generation and understanding, extending beyond their traditional use in literary writing. This thesis aims to explore the realm of metaphors from a constructivist standpoint, emphasizing their crucial role in articulating concepts by relating them to familiar ideas. Drawing upon influential works in the field, the thesis delves into the significance of metaphors in various disciplines, including sociology and cognitive psychology. While metaphors have been extensively studied in uman-Computer Interaction (HCI), their application is limited to graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for educational purposes. However, with the rise of Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) and their increased popularity, there is a noticeable gap in design guidelines and research on the metaphors employed in these interfaces. Currently, VUIs heavily rely on the metaphor of "humanness" without considering users' nuanced understanding and their use of non-human or fictional metaphors. This thesis aims to challenge the widely accepted practice of designing simplistic system personas by proposing the idea of "metaphor-fluid" voice interfaces. The thesis argues for the design of voice interfaces that can dynamically change metaphors based on the context of the conversation, aligning more closely with users' cognitive processes and facilitating natural and intuitive interactions.