In 2022 the Superbots Industry Immersion program partnered with Monash FIT, Women in Voice (WiV) and TalkVia One for a second successful time. Twenty-two young women from Mount Waverley Secondary College and South Oakleigh College attended the program. Superbots aims to highlight and start conversations about gender bias and stereotypes present in modern voice technology, specifically voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google Home.
Following a design thinking process, students discovered and interacted with a range of devices currently on the market before defining and analysing potential stereotypes perpetuated by digital assistants. Students had the opportunity to reflect, in pairs, on the personality of an assistant that would best meet their needs, or the needs of someone in the community. After brainstorming a series of questions and answers students used TalkVia One to begin to create their own custom voicebot. Before they could be finalised, the budding voice designers spoke with mentors from the WiV network about their prototypes, gaining industry insight and constructive feedback to finesse their final product, which was then showcased to the wider group.
The Superbots program has industry at the forefront, having been co-designed with Professor Yolande Strengers of Monash FIT. Students are provided with multiple connections to this emerging field, including mentoring sessions, conversations with current PhD students from the Faculty of IT, Monash University course guidance and a Q&A with WIV members about their professional journeys.
The success of the Superbots program in 2022 has inspired a redesign of the program which will launch in Term 1, 2023. Students will have the opportunity to go further with their prototype in the new 2-day format, participating in a round of user testing, a second mentoring experience and exploring options for visualising their voice bots, really bringing them to life.