Research & Development


At BBC Research and Development, we are interested in voice technologies as we’re seeing an increase in audience engagement with BBC content on smart speakers. It is important that we understand current user experience in order to design and innovate for the future needs of our audiences in this domain.

We carried out some user research to help us understand how people in the UK feel about using smart speakers and other voice-controlled devices. We wanted to gain insights into user attitudes and discover the range of emotions people experience during their interactions with ‘voice assistants’ (e.g. Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri). We also asked people to do a bit of future-gazing, in order to gain insight into the values, concerns and desires people have for a next generation voice assistant.

BBC R&D - What If Our Machines Had Emotions?

BBC R&D - Voice Interfaces

Data was collected from 330 participants, through an online survey carried out as part of the Emotional Machines project, which explored the possible future evolution of voice assistants possessing more human-like behaviours such as expressing internal state and being responsive to user mood. Analysis of the survey data led to a number of key findings allowing us to formulate a number of recommendations for existing voice products and for future work.

In the report (downloadable above) we share our results, findings and recommendations for anyone interested in the user experience of current voice platforms; for those working in conversation design; and for anyone thinking about the future of voice technologies.

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BBC R&D - Top Tips for Designing Voice Applications

BBC R&D - Talking with Machines

BBC R&D - User Testing The Inspection Chamber

BBC R&D - Prototyping for Voice: Design Considerations

Tech Radar - The BBC is working on an interactive audio drama for Alexa and Google Home

The Verge - BBC is making interactive radio plays for Alexa and Google Home

BBC R&D - Singing with Machines

BBC R&D - Better Radio Experiences

A smart speaker and phone placed next to each other on a shelf.

This publication is part of the Internet Research and Future Services section