Currently there are no dialog systems that enable purely voice-based access to the unstructured information on websites such as Wikipedia. Such systems could be revolutionary for non-literate users in the developing world. To investigate interface issues in such a system, we developed VoicePedia, a telephone-based dialog system for searching and browsing Wikipedia. In this paper, we present the system, as well as a user study comparing the use of VoicePedia to SmartPedia, a Smartphone GUI-based alternative. Keyword entry through the voice interface was significantly faster, while search result navigation, and page browsing were significantly slower. Although users preferred the GUI-based interface, task success rates between both systems were comparable – a promising result for regions where Smartphones and data plans are not viable.

Index Terms: dialog system, information access