Designing a Discrete Speaker Recognition App for Conversational Support on Smartwatches

For my MRes (master in research), I investigated a conversational speaker-recognition system that inferred the speaker’s identity from their voice to help those who find recalling names in conversation difficult. I developed Pwy (Welsh for “Who” as in “Pwy ydych chi?” or “Who are you?”), an iOS and watchOS app that can identify who is speaking based on a speaker’s “vocal fingerprint”.

I ran three stages of research: a design session with students in a user experience course, participatory design workshops with expert designers, people who find socialising difficult and people with a traumatic brain injury. The findings at each stage were then used to inform the next phase of the design process.
We carried out design theatre, scenario cards, and a design critic in the participatory design workshops. We also found that each design group had their own distinct needs, with each group having a different attitude to failure, privacy and features. For example, expert designers and those who found socialising difficult were concerned with failure. In contrast, those with traumatic brain injury would be happy to make their judgment and point toward the app’s failure.

Further, I ran a wizard of OZ study with participants in a scenario where they did not know who they were speaking to but felt they did know them. Participants met around five actors each, who acted as if they knew the individual. To ensure that the app worked as intended (as we did not want to measure the performance of our model at this stage), I modified Pwy to allow me to control it from my phone. There was no existing prototyping suite we had access to at the time for the Apple Watch that met our requirements. Participants were under the total illusion that the app worked and that we found delays impacted the quality of conversation, the usefulness of the prompts and the usefulness of the watch.

Below is the download of my MRes theses. I passed my viva with three months of corrections and was awarded my MRes (MRes qualifications at Swansea University are pass and fail only).