Materialising the Immaterial: Provotyping to Explore Voice Assistant Complexities

Michael Shorter, Bettina Minder, Jon Rogers, Matthias Baldauf, Aurelio Todisco, Sabine Junginger, Aysun Aytaç, Patricia Wolf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Voice assistants (VAs), typically promoted as omniscient conversational butlers, still remain below users' expectations. Interaction designers seem to struggle bringing in user perspectives necessary to develop more meaningful VA applications beyond simple use cases such as playing music. One of the reasons might be the immateriality of cloud-based VA technology making it difficult to comprehend such complex and ever-evolving systems. In this paper, we investigate provotyping as a design tool for 'materialising the immaterial'. In our case study, teams of multidisciplinary experts devised twelve provotypes to explore intangible VA technology. We present and discuss three generalisations in respect to the role of provotypes for the exploration of VAs. Our findings show provotypes can serve as the necessary props by which we can bring in missing perspectives around this technology and generate material which enables designers to speculate, debate, and sketch out ideas for meaningful futures of VA applications.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDIS '22: Proceedings of the 2022 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Subtitle of host publicationDigital Wellbeing
EditorsFlorian `Floyd' Mueller, Stefan Greuter, Rohit Ashok Khot, Penny Sweetser, Marianna Obrist
Place of PublicationNew York, US
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450393584
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022
EventDIS '22: Designing Interactive Systems Conference - Online, Online, Australia
Duration: 13 Jun 202217 Jun 2022


ConferenceDIS '22
Internet address


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