A drawing of two people standing back to back, looking at mobile devices.

More than just a conversation

Until today, conversing with a mobile device or a computer has been in the language of technology. We’ve been forced to learn the language of computers. But now, technological devices are finally learning to understand us. We spoke with SPACE10 to find out more.

SPACE10, a future-living lab and exhibition space, has been exploring this topic with passion, holding several workshops for people from all over the world. Their last workshop was held at NUS, Singapore. SPACE10 wants to “gather the most curious minds in conversational interfaces, invite everyone to explore together and share the stories in what we call ‘Do you speak human?’”

So what is a conversational interface you might wonder? Apple’s Siri, the ‘persona’ who replies to your requests through voice control, is a good example. Now, every major tech company is pouring themselves into this kind of technology; Amazon, WeChat, Facebook, Google, the list goes on.

A drawing depicting a green shirt pocket with pens in.
Sandy van Helden

What is all of this to IKEA?

So why is IKEA interested in this type of development? This year about 915 million people visited IKEA stores around the world and 2,1 billion people visited an IKEA website. They all have their own story and their own reason for going to IKEA. What if conversational technology could meet their needs in a better way? Making wants, needs and wishes plausible while enhancing dialogue and interaction through new ways of communication.

SPACE10 set out to investigate this possibility “that conversational technology might change the way we interact with digital technology and how it will influence the way IKEA communicates with the many people.”

A drawing depicting a woman in glasses looking over the edge of a desk.
Sandy van Helden

Introducing the Conversational Form

SPACE10 began by asking themselves how design is being transformed by things that we cannot see. For example, how do different countries approach messaging? SPACE10 sees conversational interfaces and AI as one of the next big revolutions in computing. “We wanted to experiment with the most common interface today – the web form – to see how that would transform in a world of conversational interfaces.” The first prototype in a series of projects that will unfold over the upcoming months is turning web forms into conversations. You can try one of the Conversational Forms here. (Don’t forget to click on the “Turn on conversation” button in the black square.)

SPACE10 believes that, in general, we can make better forms than those we meet around the web today and that building an open-source framework, will make it easier for developers and designers to engage with users in a more compelling and conversational way.

The next projects touches upon everything from “how to design artificial personas”  and a playful research project on “how to democratise the design process of conversational interfaces and AI. Read more about the project here.

About SPACE10
SPACE10 is a future-living lab and exhibition space in the heart of Copenhagen. They investigate the future of urban living through a series of labs in collaboration with an ever-growing community of visionary designers, artists, technologists, makers and creatives from around the world. Space10 is proudly supported by Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and serves as an external innovation hub for IKEA to get inspired, gain fresh perspectives, and discover new talents and ideas to invest in and bring forward.