A voice assistant that gives people more control over their data

Washington
5th Nov 2019
While most people report being satisfied with their voice assistants, many are still concerned with personal privacy given how the devices feel “always on” in their homes. Offering people simple, transparent tools may hold the power to change their minds. People want the convenience of a voice assistant with more transparency, so they can better understand how their information is being used to suggest personalized content.
Product Context

Ditto is a voice assistant available on mobile and home speaker systems. It can help with everything from playing favorite movies, music, and podcasts, to managing calendars and sending messages, to placing orders and answering questions. Ditto also integrates a wide range of other services.

In order to provide the service, Ditto is powered by some of the following data:

  • Voice recognition
  • Location and personalized settings
  • Health and activity tracking apps
  • Food ordering and delivery apps
  • Online browsing and purchase history

Problem & Opportunity

Some people wonder whether voice assistants are over-reaching into their personal lives and collecting data without their consent. To alleviate their concern, people need tools that offer transparency to help them manage their data and clearly show how it’s being used to generate tailored content. Empowered with these tools, people will be more likely to engage with voice assistants, like Ditto.

How might we...

...design a useful, personalized voice assistant while ensuring people maintain control over their data?

Design Features
Assistance with total transparency

The onboarding experience is a critical moment to build comfort. This feature demonstrates how personal information is essential to Ditto’s function. Even for something as simple as a weather report, Ditto needs a person’s location to provide an accurate forecast. Not only does Ditto explain precisely what information it needs to answer a person’s question. It also asks for permission to access that data and offers an alternative if the person wants to opt out of sharing it. After a 24-hour trial period, all the data Ditto collects is permanently deleted. This novel feature of a one-day trial period allows people to test out the service before committing their data. Over time, simple, transparent tools, like this one, will help build trust.

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Next steps

This Ditto feature is focused on providing people with more transparency and insight into how the device is generating personalized content to fit their needs. In the future, people will be able to view and control their “persona” to see what the device thinks they’re interested in, based on past behavior. This feature also must be tested across audiences to ensure it resonates with them and that it’s accurately providing customized suggestions.

How might we build on Ditto’s ideas to design a transparent, personalized voice assistant whose recommendations resonate with different kinds of people?