Martin Porcheron

Researcher at the University of Nottingham

My blog

Examining Amazon Echo use in the home

Written by Martin Porcheron on Monday February 12, 2018

Amazon Echo, and other 'smartspeaker' products such as Google Home and Apple Homepod, are marketed as being suited to multi-party multi-activity settings like the home. What this means is that these products are pitched as being suited to situations where two ore more people are doing various activities, and where they can interact with the smartspeaker through its voice interface with ease. In this work, we wanted to examine exactly how this interaction unfolds naturally.

We (i.e. me, my supervisors Joel Fischer and Sarah Sharples, and a colleague, Stuart Reeves) have published our findings as a paper, which is now available to download. We will present the findings at CHI 2018, the ACM conference for Human-Computer Interaction. As a nice surprise, this paper also has won a Best Paper award at CHI, awarded to the top 1% of submissions.

This blog post should give you a flavour of what we found, however if you're interested in looking at some great transcripts of interaction with Alexa, I urge you to have a look at a Stuart's more detailed Medium post here, or alternatively read the paper.

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The challenge with AI: humans have biases

Written by Martin Porcheron on Thursday November 9, 2017

Recently, another attempt at creating some sort of "generalish AI" (that isn't really AI at all) that was meant to be able to understand society has ended badly. This time it was Google, who built a tool that was one big large sentiment analysis tool, which scraped the web and gave a positive/negative score to different phrases based on what it found. Unsurprisingly, phrases such as "I'm a homosexual" came out negative, and there was outrage as bloggers around the world accused Google of some act of neglect in building a homophobic algorithm or some other truly evil sin. The reality, however, is that it is humans are not some uniform dogooder collective. They're a bunch of opinionated and offensive windbags.

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When we use our phone in the pub with friends

Written by Martin Porcheron on Sunday October 29, 2017

In 2016, I wrote and presented a paper at the CSCW conference on the use of mobile phones in conversation while in a pub. The paper was the culmination of my first piece of research I planned and led myself, and so too was my first foray into paper writing as a lead author. This work was important to me, as it forms the bedrock of my PhD thesis. Namely, it shows how people use a mobile device in conversation as a routine practice — they still do talk with their friends as they do it, and they often bring the device use into the ongoing conversation. Here is a summary of the work, but if you'd rather read the full paper, you can fetch the PDF from this link to the ACM Digital Library.

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A product's design speaks for itself

Written by Martin Porcheron on Wednesday October 25, 2017

So, this post marks my first foray into opinion, and err, blogging. I think the blogging craze is just about dead, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon and be merry on my own.

I think many people will agree that design communicates. A good book cover will connect with people, and reveal the tone of the book well and a good event poster will attract the intended crowd, and so on. And this now brings me to the recent design directions of Apple and Dropbox.

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New beginnings

Written by Martin Porcheron on Tuesday October 24, 2017

There comes a time when every website needs an overhaul, and to be honest, my website passed that some time ago. There are many reasons to overhaul a website, but perhaps the most important one is to shift away from old software and onto a more reliable modern platform.

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