Designing the user interface for multimodal speech and pen-based gesture applications: State-of-the-art systems and future research directions

S. Oviatt, P. Cohen, L. Wu, J. Vergo, L. Duncan, B. Suhm, J. Bers, T. Holzman, T. Winograd, J. Landay, J. Larson, D. Ferro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

225 Citations (Scopus)


The growing interest in multimodal interface design is inspired in large part by the goals of supporting more transparent, flexible, efficient, and powerfully expressive means of human-computer interaction than in the past. Multimodal interfaces are expected to support a wider range of diverse applications, be usable by a broader spectrum of the average population, and function more reliably under realistic and challenging usage conditions. In this article, we summarize the emerging architectural approaches for interpreting speech and pen-based gestural input in a robust manner - including early and late fusion approaches, and the new hybrid symbolic-statistical approach. We also describe a diverse collection of state-of-the-art multimodal systems that process users' spoken and gestural input. These applications range from map-based and virtual reality systems for engaging in simulations and training, to field medic systems for mobile use in noisy environments, to web-based transactions and standard text-editing applications that will reshape daily computing and have a significant commercial impact. To realize successful multimodal systems of the future, many key research challenges remain to be addressed. Among these challenges are the development of cognitive theories to guide multimodal system design, and the development of effective natural language processing, dialogue processing, and error-handling techniques. In addition, new multimodal systems will be needed that can function more robustly and adaptively, and with support for collaborative multiperson use. Before this new class of systems can proliferate, toolkits also will be needed to promote software development for both simulated and functioning systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-322
Number of pages60
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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