Digital Overload Threatens the User Experience

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Digital overload—too much of a good thing—can significantly complicate our interaction with smartphones and the growing range of digital systems and devices. The maturing of speech and natural language interfaces—“just say or type what you want”—is an answer to digital overload, according to experts speaking at the Mobile Voice Conference, March 3-5, in San Francisco, presented by the Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS).

User interfaces that worked acceptably with fewer features and options are becoming so crowded that they make digital systems increasingly challenging to use, a problem compounded with smaller screens on smartphones. This issue and solutions are clearly reflected in talks at the conference.

Using a smartphone, tablet, PC, wearable device—even interacting with a recent-model automobile—is becoming increasingly frustrating. There are continually more web sites, apps, services, software updates, and devices to deal with. What worked well with less can be frustrating with too much. And the trend toward complexity is accelerating.

“Speech recognition and natural language understanding technology will eventually be a required overlay to every operating system,” notes William Meisel, an industry analyst and the program organizer for the Mobile Voice Conference. “Rather than hunt for information or a feature of the OS or an application, you will just tell the system what you want to accomplish. Often, you can reach an objective in one statement that would take several steps in a visual interface. In effect, the natural language interface can become an ever-present personal assistant, and it can be essentially the same ‘OS’ independent of device.”

“Like Moore’s Law, improvements in speech recognition, speech synthesis, natural language interpretation, and knowledge representation are compounding, with improvements in each aspect making the others more useful,” said K. W. 'Bill' Scholz, AVIOS president and president, NewSpeech. “Talks at the Mobile Voice Conference show an amazing number of impressive deployed applications, as well as the tools to make those applications.”

The full program of the conference is available at

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Peggie Johnson

Bill Meisel
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