Nicole Yankelovich


Hands-Free Manual


When: 1997.

What: Multi-modal manual for learning how to install internet cabling. Users could physically practice terminating cable while listening to step-by-step instructions. They advanced to the next step and played demonstration videos using voice commands.

Where: Speech Applications Group, Sun Microsystems Laboratories.

How: Principal Investigator. Tasks included project/people management, user research, natural dialog study, content research, content development (written, spoken, and video), interaction design, grammar development, scripting, usability testing, presentations, and software demonstrations.

About the Project

In this project, my Speech Applications team in Sun Microsystems Laboratories created a “Wiring for NetDay” instruction manual for installing CAT 5 internet cable – an activity that was being done around the state of Massachusetts by inexperienced volunteers helping to wire schools for the internet.

To tackle this project, I first learned how to terminate CAT 5 cable by helping out in several schools. Then I designed, illustrated, and wrote the visual on-screen manual. I also produced a series of videos showing how to do each of the steps, hiring an actress to narrate the clips. Once the manual was complete, various members of the speech group walked through the manual with volunteers. We handled all the interactions involving the mouse so the volunteers could focus on the task. We encouraged them to let us know when they were confused or needed more help. We recorded all these human-to-human interactions and used those as a basis for designing the speech interaction.

Here’s a demo of the system.

Related Publication

How do users know what to say?
N Yankelovich
interactions 3 (6), 32-43
Using natural dialogs as the basis for speech interface design
N Yankelovich
Human Factors and Voice Interactive Systems, 255-290
SpeechActs: A Framework for Building Speech Applications
N Yankelovich, E Baatz
AVIOS ‘94 Conference Proceedings, 20-23


This entry was posted on June 8, 2013 by in Speech.
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