Isla

Concept Morning Chatbot for Critial Thinking

Tools

Sketch, Vue.js, Google Speech-to-Text, Raspberry Pi

Skills

UX Research, Prototyping, Voice Research, UI

Lorem Ipsum

This is my final year project for Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design.

Isla is a concept, which includes 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.

A dome and social media app echoes user's own opinions.

Similar to a dome, social media echoes your own opinions.

In my primary research, participants were asked to screen-record their Facebook feed, Hong Kong’s predominant social network. I found people rarely see the same posts, hence they receive the same piece of information but from separate sources or points of view.

I also conducted interviews with participants to understand their content consumption habits on social media. From these interviews, I set the target audience of the project to be “Readers” in the martix – people who read the news and adopt the echo chamer’s views because of their peers, and do not apply critical thinking when forming their own views.

Opportunity in Morning Briefings

Critical thinking is crucial in reducing the echo chamber effect. Gathering information and exploring viewpoints, among other qualities, is needed to promote understanding between parties.

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa mobile apps showing their settings screens.

Morning briefings on existing assistants play pre-made podcasts in their news sections.

Home smart speakers (e.g. Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod) have a “morning briefing” feature where users can get the information they need in the morning. The news section of it currently only plays pre-made news podcasts. As users use the briefing daily, this section can be transformed to train users’ critical thinking.

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.

The app shows a screen where a news snippet is followed by suggested questions.

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.

The app shows different people debating on a topic.

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.

Three phones showing the poll screen, voted poll sreen and poll result screen.

Users can choose multiple options that represent their view. 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.

Three phones showing the timeline and saved articles drawer.

User can save articles about events that lead to the current news to read later.

Drawer

The links saved from the story timeline is available here after the briefing. The poll results are also kept here in the evening.

A phone showing the app's drawer page.

Poll results and saved links.

Daily User Journey

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

A user joruney map showing two paths, one for the app version and the other for the voice assistant version.

Gallery

A booth with background information on Isla and video playing.

Annual show booth.

Users can choose the columns of their interest during first launch.
Besides today, they can revisit previous briefings.
Isla waiting for voice command.

Voice recognition was implemented in the prototype (top left). Users say “good morning” to invoke Isla on smart displays. The voice recognition is done with a nearby Raspberry Pi, and sent to Google Cloud for Speech to Text.

© 2022 YS Chung.