March 11, 2003

Talk, Talk, Talk

- One of those wonderful visions of the future that you see in sci-fi is computers that talk to you, and that you can talk back to. We've had voice interfaces for a pretty long time now, very useful in things like wireless phones. However, as a past coworker of mine used to say "I wish my computer would shut up."

I was geekily setting up my home computer to use Star Trek LCARS themes which include computer sounds for all of the little things your Windows PC does. What I realized was, I didn't want my computer talking to me all the time. A beep or two suffices for communicating the most frequent things. A talking device is a huge annoyance, like having an idiot babbler in the office with you. So I replaced all the spoken-word sounds with Star Trek beeps of various kinds.

The meaning of each beep might not be immediately apparent to the new user, but people learn quickly, and will associate the sound with the meaning soon enough. A good interface does not mean the user doesn't have to learn anything.

Posted by James at March 11, 2003 8:15 AM
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