Conversational User Interfaces in Smart Homecare Interactions: A Conversation Analytic Case Study

Saul Albert, Magnus Hamann, Elizabeth Stokoe


Policymakers are increasingly interested in using virtual assistants to augment social care services in the context of a demographic ageing crisis. At the same time, technology companies are market- ing conversational user interfaces (CUIs) and smart home systems as assistive technologies for elderly and disabled people. However, we know relatively little about how today’s commercially available CUIs are used to assist in everyday homecare activities, or how care service users and human care assistants interpret and adapt these technologies in practice. Here we report on a longitudinal conversation analytic case study to identify, describe, and share how CUIs can be used as assistive conversational agents in practice. The analysis reveals that, while CUIs can augment and support new capabilities in a homecare environment, they cannot replace the delicate interactional work of human care assistants. We ar- gue that CUI design is= best inspired and underpinned by a better understanding of the joint coordination of homecare activities


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