Intelligibility Issues Faced by Smart Speaker Enthusiasts in Understanding What Their Devices Do and Why

Mirzel Avdic and Jo Vermeulen.
Presented by
Mirzel Avdic.

In Proceedings of OzCHI 2020: Proceedings of the 32nd Australian Conference on Human-Computer-Interaction, Sydney, Australia, December 2–4, 2020, 15 pages.
[46% acceptance; 174 submissions]


Studies of smart speakers highlight issues people face with under- standing why unexpected behaviour occurs and with recovering from mistakes due to uninformative responses. Yet, our understanding of such intelligibility issues in smart speakers — difficulties in understanding the device's behaviour — remains limited, in particular, for long-term and frequent smart speaker users who may encounter more complex situations than first-time users. We conducted an online survey and interviews with smart speaker enthusiasts to investigate how they form an understanding of the device's behaviour and what strategies they use to recover from breakdowns. We identified seven different breakdown recovery strategies and found that enthusiasts particularly struggled with breakdowns in their IoT infrastructure. Informed by our results, we propose three research directions: infrastructural breakdowns as learning opportunities for understanding the smart speaker’s behaviour; leveraging aspects of non-verbal communication as opportunities for design; and considering passive users' intelligibility and control needs.