Artificial Intelligence shows up in many different ways. Talking to your home automation hub has been the fad lately. With Alexa, Siri and Hey Google chatting with your house has gone from something only crazy people do to crazy cool over night. Not all of us love talking to our inanimate objects. So, if you are fed up with asking your system to ‘turn on the lights’ and out of the darkness comes a disembodied response like this: ‘I can’t find a contact with the name Turner Ligits how about these web results?’ you may find a new way of interacting with your stuff an appealing idea.
For many of the ‘new’ way may be even more natural than speech – a chat. Yep, just like you text Domino’s for a pizza or let your friends know you are on your way over with a text message. The magicians of the internet are working to create ways that you can chat with your house. Chatbots are increasingly common. Even if you have never heard of them you probably have a pretty good idea of what they are and you may have even interacted with them without knowing it.
The most basic Chatbots are trying to pass the Turing Test and convince you that you are talking to another meat sack rather than a pile of transistors. More complex ones are used to help automate more complicated tasks. If you use the popular business communication tool Slack you have probably encountered one of the hundreds of bots used for everything from productivity boosting surveys to productivity crushing but hilarious antics. Facebook and a range of service providers use bots to help triage customer technical issues or to automate services. Not to say that turning over support to a bot is always a good idea. Microsoft’s Tay bot is a good example of a well meaning experiment gone wrong.
One person who has been working on this for a while is Chris Jefferies over at Tinajalabs. If you are interested at all in Home Automation Chatbots you should check out his work here. It gives you a good idea of what a chatbot UX for home automation might look like.