I have now had an Amazon Echo since May (see post) and it is amazing how many questions about the future of HCI the use of this device leads to, especially in relation to what Lars-Erik Janlert and I call "faceless interaction" (see earlier post). I am convinced that Echo is a type of device that in the next few years will fill our personal and private environments. Of course, it may be that devices such as Echo may disappear into the environment itself and be less distinguishable as a 'device' and become more a 'function' of the environment.
I have had the privilege to work for the last couple of month with a couple of excellent students who together with me are investigating Echo. We are trying to map what happens when people are confronted with 'faceless interaction' in the form of Echo. What do people do and think? How do they behave? And most interestingly, what questions about interaction in general does this lead to? We are starting to see some structure and some categories when it comes to the use of Echo, and it is already clear that some of them are not what we intuitively might expect, that is, Echo is not 'just another device', it brings something new.
We are right now planning some small studies and experiments and we hope to have our first paper ready later this semester. I see this research as exciting since it relates to some of the newest interactive devices so it is exciting from the technological and functional point of view, but at the same time I see it as really foundational since this type of device can help us to examine and reflect on aspects of the fundamental nature of interactivity and HCI.