Isla

Concept chatbot for boosting critical thinking

Isla is a chatbot for smart displays and an app. It provides required information to start one's day, such as weather and agenda. More importantly, it shows the latest news in a story-like format while boosting critical thinking.

It aims to lessen the echo chamber effect, where people only consume media reinforcing their existing beliefs. By enhancing people's critical thinking daily, it seeks to encourage the forming of informed views and introduce criticality to people's judgement.

The Echo Chamber Effect

This phenomenon, in a nutshell, is where people read or watch only media that align with their views. Its makes two sides of society harder to find common ground or reconcile.

I needed to verify the effect's severity in Hong Kong. Participants were asked to screen-record their Facebook feed, Hong Kong's predominant social network. The posts are sorted and analysed.

I found that people rarely see the same posts. Hence they receive the same piece of information but from separate sources and points of views.

Opportunity in Morning Briefings

Smart home speakers (e.g. Amazon Echo, Nest Hub) have a "morning briefing" feature where users can get the information they need in the morning. The whole family, young and old, can listen along to the briefing.

The news section of the morning briefings currently only plays pre-made news podcasts, hence can be improved with features that enhance critical thinking. As users invoke the briefing every day, this section can be transformed to train users' critical thinking daily.

Features

Suggested Questions

Asking questions is a vital part of critical thinking. Therefore, based on the current piece of news, a list of suggested questions is displayed on the screen. The user can use voice or tap the questions to get the answer.

Asking questions daily encourages critical thinking in daily life.
Asking questions daily encourages critical thinking in daily life.

Argument

Understanding different viewpoints is also crucial to critical thinking. A part of the news section is where people of different views debate each other, encouraging the user to explore different opinions.

Arguments help users understand different opinions and viewpoints.
Arguments help users understand different opinions and viewpoints.

Polls

Exploring different options ahead is a part of critical thinking. In some of the news entries, there is a poll where the users can vote for the various possibilities about the current news entry. At the evening, the app notifies the user to see the result of the poll. This feature not only encourages the user to explore options but also helps them to gauge the overall opinion of society.

Users can choose multiple options that represent their view, then the final result is saved in the drawer in the evening.
Users can choose multiple options that represent their view, then the final result is saved in the drawer in the evening.

Story Timeline

Gathering information about the news' background is essential to understanding it. At the beginning of most news entries, the user can choose to see a timeline of preceding events and save articles in the drawer to read later.

Users can choose to read the timeline now, or later from the drawer.
Users can choose to read the timeline now, or later from the drawer.

Daily User Journey

Isla can be used every day on smart displays or as a mobile phone app.

Simplified user journey map.
Simplified user journey map.

Gallery

Annual show booth.
Annual show booth.
On smart displays, users are reminded to vote for their options in the app.
On smart displays, users are reminded to vote for their options in the app.
First launch screen, app main screen and weather briefing section.
First launch screen, app main screen and weather briefing section.
Voice recognition was implemented in the prototype, made with Vue.js and Google Cloud Speech-to-text. Users say
Voice recognition was implemented in the prototype, made with Vue.js and Google Cloud Speech-to-text. Users say "good morning" to invoke Isla on smart displays.

© 2020 YS Chung.