Using Lo-Fi Prototyping to Envision Conversational Agents in Public Settings

Quanjer, A.J., Jylhä, A., van Leeuwen, J.P. 2019. “Using Lo-Fi Prototyping to Envision Conversational Agents in Public Settings.” In: Proceedings of European Conference on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Oxford, UK, Oct. 2019.


Speech interactions are often associated with virtual assistants and smart home devices, designed primarily for private contexts. A less developed domain is speech interfaces in public contexts. In a smart city development project, we explored the potential of distributed conversational speech interfaces in lampposts. Deploying a research-through-design method, we created a lo-fi prototype of the speech interface that test subjects could interact with during experiments in a lab setting. Our first exploratory prototype consisted of a loudspeaker that acted as the interface and preconceived dialogues designed to investigate the boundaries of desirable and acceptable experiences regarding issues such as privacy. Experiencing the interaction with this rudimentary prototype helped people envision potential use cases and reflect on privacy issues: the dialogues revealed subjective limits of what kind of (personal) information people were willing to share with the lamppost. They also elicited thoughts on possible consequences in the social context of citizens.