Saying that the intersection of 5th and Spring Street is not the business intersection on campus is an understatement. Here you can witness business men and women, students, street vendors, pedestrians, and drivers interact with each other as Atlanta slowly starts creeping onto Georgia Tech’s campus. Though each of these people are different they all have one thing in common, getting to their destination safely.
Every couple of seconds the corners of the intersection start to refill, all while waiting for the light to change and see that little white walking symbol appear. People continue to cross the street as the traffic light fades to yellow and the time left to cross the street diminishes. Drivers begin to grow impatient with pedestrians when they cannot turn because they are still crossing the street.
This intersection will always be hectic however, the space could benefit from the use of a sound-directed interface to direct the pedestrians and motorists. With the instillation of an interface in this area, traffic would stop for 20 seconds so that pedestrians can complete their tasks separately, without interference from motorists. Along with the new cross walk signal, while counting down the numbers a beep should occur shortly afterwards.
As discussed in the book Wired for Speech, the voice of this interface should be low in pitch to suggest competence (page 42), slow to suggest the user should take their time (page 34), and the beep should be monotone and staccato to give time in between the counting down of numbers.
This interface will benefit pedestrians by eliminating the dangers of interacting with cars while crossing the street due to the extended period of time they have to complete their task. In addition, it will benefit motorists in that the cross walk system will eliminate pedestrians in the walkways, so that they can complete their tasks without interference from non-motorists. Disabled people could also benefit from the addition of the interface, for example if a blind person were to cross the street, they would know exactly the amount of time they have to do so because the interface counts-down the time remaining. The interface makes the tasks being accomplished in this space safer for pedestrians and motorists.
“You have got to be kidding me! I have been standing at the bus stop for the past five minutes!” exclaims a man in frustration with arms in the air. He turns and trudges back to the bus stop as the Tech Trolley continues on its route. A woman joins him soon after, anxiously checking the time on her phone to make sure she does not make the same mistake. At the intersection of West Peachtree and Fifth Street, a speech- directed interface would be beneficial for those who ride the bus. An interface at this location would be beneficial for passengers because it will create a system to alert passengers of incoming buses to increase efficiency. If an interface is added at this location, the man would not have missed the bus because there would have been an audio signal alerting him of the arrival. Thus, instead of waiting for another bus to arrive and feeling frustrated from missing the bus in the first place, he can be more productive in his day by performing other tasks. Furthermore, with the addition of an interface, the woman would not have to keep checking her phone for the time as anxiously. Instead of checking the time incessantly, she can check her emails before work and be more productive. She may check the time once to make sure she is on time, but she would not have to keep checking because she could just listen for the announcement. Having an interface will also allow the bus to be more punctual. After people are alerted of the incoming bus, they will have time to pack up their belongings and get on the bus immediately when it arrives.
The Tech Trolley stop in the bustling intersection.
The voice of the interface would be a male voice speaking at a medium pace that would say “The Tech Trolley is arriving”. The voice would be monotone without any personality so that there is no question about what the interface is saying. In Wired for Speech, the argument is made that people “use their decisions about voice personality to guide their feelings and behaviors towards the speaker.” There is no emotional attachment towards the announcer so a monotone voice is used to send the message in a concise and direct way. This will leave no room for misunderstanding. As a result, the introduction of this interface will provide greater assistance to passengers as well as the transit system to boost efficiency in a society where time is essential.