How might we encourage users to push the boundaries of their comfort zones and try speaking with other accents.
A mobile app and a voice assistant that tracks their code switch
What It Is
Switch lets users track their code switch on their phones and their smart speakers by learning their speech patterns. Depending on the users’ needs, it can nudge them to code-switch less, encouraging them to speak more like their culturally authentic selves, or to code switch more, helping them to speak Standard English like their white colleagues at work, for instance.
What’s a Code Switch?
Code-switching is the practice of shifting the ways one speaks depending on context, as when one changes their accent to sound more like those around them to fit in. It is a practice most recognized when black Americans shift their speech from slang usage to more grammatically proper (or white) “standard” ways of speaking. But code-switching is also an everyday experience for many immigrants, and often happens involuntarily and quickly, without the speaker recognizing the change.
How It Works
The app first learns the user’s speech patterns by asking her to read example phrases (just as how Alexa learns to recognize individual users’ voices). Then, the app prompts the user to create profiles for the different accents (e.g. Mike for the American accent and Minh for the Vietnamese accent). Having learned the speech patterns associated with each identity, Switch now listens to the user throughout the day, either on a phone or a smart speaker device. At the end of the day, the app generates a color-coded and time-stamped map of where and when s/he was either identity.
Why you need it
More than a tracking app, Switch is a habit-changing app. By setting the goals to code-switch less or to do it more, the app nudges the users to speak with their accent or to speak in Standard English, encouraging them to push the boundaries of their comfort zones and try speaking with the other accents. Its goals are to encourage users to embrace the multitude of their identities, and feel more comfortable expressing themselves authentically regardless of context.
Two Opposing Goals
Switch acknowledges that there are two opposing objectives when it comes to code switch. While users want authentic self-expression, they also strategically change their accents depending on context to win acceptance.
Initial Screen Sketches
Testing the prototype with users yielded 6 insights
Make signs clearer to prompt interaction + help navigate
Don’t require dual-identity setup in the beginning
Make the app ask/suggest who they code-switch to
Current stats do not allow users to be both - show switch in the stats
Combine time of day with geo-location
The stats shown in percentage don't mean anything - make numbers more tangible