TTC Labs - Empowering co-creation through a digital voice assistant

Empowering co-creation through a digital voice assistant

26th Sep 2019

Voice recognition technology makes digital exploration and consumption more accessible than ever before, for both children and adults. As children gain more agency in their digital interactions, however, it becomes more difficult than ever for their parents/guardians to help make sure that they're staying safe online . With voice technology now becoming more and more prevalent in and around people's homes, it’s particularly problematic to monitor young people's experiences, including where and how their data is being used and stored.

Product Context

Ditto is an at-home assistant app that uses a voice-powered Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help people of all ages better manage media streaming services.

By connecting directly to these platforms, Ditto can become a central point of access for people and help them better manage their home entertainment services and media experiences.

As a collaborative platform, Ditto also provides children with agency in their choices while giving adults an opportunity to monitor interactions.

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

  1. Your calendar, time zone, and schedule
  2. Your likes and dislikes in terms of what you consume (tv shows, movies, music, podcasts, and more)
  3. Your name and your voice.

Both parent/guardian and child have their own devices through which they can access the Ditto companion app. Ditto recognizes the adult and the child by voice profiling and can verify their identities accordingly.

In addition, Ditto’s hardware companion is always recording activity and sound throughout a person’s home, unless explicitly turned off. In doing so, Ditto is able to more readily assist people and address their needs or requests as accurately as possible.


Problem & Opportunity

Both children and adults want to use voice assistants to interact with digital experiences in their homes to enjoy their favorite shows, movies, and songs. While they want the benefits of a voice assistant listening to their conversations and understanding what they like, they also want transparency, safety and control around the data that is used to determine it.

How might we...

...let parents/guardians and children feel in control of their data without feeling as if they’re under surveillance when using a voice assistant at home?

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Design Features
Shared interests & cross-account notifications

When someone likes or bookmarks a movie, show, or song, Ditto will take note and begin to surface similar content. If this interest overlaps with someone else using the same Ditto device, it will notify you both of your shared interests.

This allows Ditto to encourage shared interests amongst family members, while also ensuring that interests that do not overlap remain private.

This is expanded further on Ditto’s homepage with quick tips and suggestions regarding shared interests that multiple people can view and enjoy. Shared interests on Ditto can easily be adjusted or removed, as needed.

Assuming that Ditto does not automatically pass data to other apps - and that each app that connects with Ditto has its own data policies to follow that are not within Ditto’s capacity to manage or determine - a gentle notification system keeps both parents/guardians and children up to date on actions that may affect one another.

This notification system allows for Ditto to feel less like a babysitter and more like a source of friendly reminders. In this way, Ditto can start creating an experience that doesn’t rely on asking for permission, but still allows for parents/guardians to check in (as an admin) while allowing children to explore the app freely.

Design Features
Accessible language & chat logs

The content of Ditto's app should feel like a trusted friend and encourage real-world engagement. By designing the chat system to hold a person's hand through every request, Ditto will give them a better sense of control and understanding of how their data is being processed, handled, and stored.

Chat logs are one of the core features of Ditto. Ditto will always alert a person when an action or request has been taken that directly involves their profile, and both parents/guardians and children can access chat logs that mention them to look through, and take action on, requests. They can delete data whenever they feel it is necessary.

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Next steps

How might we build on Ditto’s ideas to give children who use the platform more freedom and administrative capabilities without overriding parental oversight?

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