Evaluating Older Users' Experiences with Commercial Dialogue Systems: Implications for Future Design and Development

Libby Ferland, Thomas Huffstutler, Jacob Rice, Joan Zheng, Shi Ni, Maria Gini

Understanding the needs of a variety of distinct user groups is vital in designing effective, desirable dialogue systems that will be adopted by the largest possible segment of the population. Despite the increasing popularity of dialogue systems in both mobile and home formats, user studies remain relatively infrequent and often sample a segment of the user population that is not representative of the needs of the potential user population as a whole. This is especially the case for users who may be more reluctant adopters, such as older adults. In this paper we discuss the results of a recent user study performed over a large population of age 50 and over adults in the Midwestern United States that have experience using a variety of commercial dialogue systems. We show the common preferences, use cases, and feature gaps identified by older adult users in interacting with these systems. Based on these results, we propose a new, robust user modeling framework that addresses common issues facing older adult users, which can then be generalized to the wider user population.

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