In these days of physical distancing, people can feel especially lonely. Being able to speak with someone, even if it is a smart speaker, can help us overcome our loneliness.
Voice developers and designers may want to create conversational interfaces that help overcome loneliness. However, without user insights, it can be hard to understand exactly how people like to use their Alexa devices to address feeling like they have no one to support them. By searching through the comments people leave for Alexa skills, we can find answers to this question.
I used the (now shut-down) Voice Market Data skills database to search for 5-star comments with the keyword “lonely”.
I found a total of 35 reviews for 29 skills where the user describes exactly how they use their Alexa device to address their loneliness:
This made my day or maybe I should say perfect end for my day. The kind words made me feel that there was someone in this world that cared about me… even if it were only a computer in a speaker. Made me feel less lonely.
Good Night from Stoked Skills LLC
I liked the daily reminders and weather forecast. I like the way Alexa takes me through tips that are relevant for people my age. I like how Alexa helps me and my family know if I’m having any challenges with my well-being like problems with good nutrition, memory or feeling lonely. MyDay also let my family know that I was doing well each day so they didn’t worry about me or call with annoying questions about how I was doing. MyDay helped me stay healthy and on track so I don’t lose my independence or have be a burden to my family.
My Day, a well-being program for older adults by Well.Said, Inc.
My Kittie can’t be with me where I am right now. So this skill makes me feel like he’s with me and I’m not as lonely.
Sleep Sounds: Cat Purring Sounds by Voice Apps, LLC.
These are three examples of very different skills that can be helpful to fight loneliness. The general themes that come out from this user research is that people fight their loneliness with skills that:
- Simulate comforting human interactions.
- Provide helpful information and reassurance to loved ones.
- Give comfort that is not currently available.