The Voice of 'Siri' Is Actually a Real Woman (Guess Who?!)


Fun with Siri
I guess I knew somewhere in my head that Siri probably had a body somewhere. I mean her voice had to come from someone, right? No. That’s not true. I totally thought Siri was 100 percent robot.

In fact, I just asked Siri if she was a real person. You know what she said to me? “I’m sorry, Jenny, I’m afraid I can’t answer that.” You know what she said when I asked her if she was voiceover talent Susan Bennett? “No comment.”

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Ha! I love you, Siri, except when you get me lost because you didn’t tell me to turn soon enough.

Anyway, it looks like Siri’s voice comes from a real, live woman -- one that has recently decided to come forward publically. She’s Susan Bennett, and even though Apple won’t confirm it, professionals in the business that have worked with her, and even an audio-forensics expert with 30 years of experience say it’s her.

The funny thing is that she didn’t even know she’d be the voice of Siri. In 2005, she was hired to do some voice recording, and she spent four hours a day for the entire month of July making recordings “that would be used in a database to construct speech.”

Hour after hour, she read nonsensical phrases and sentences so that the "ubergeeks" -- as she affectionately calls them; they leave her awestruck -- could work their magic by pulling out vowels, consonants, syllables and diphthongs, and playing with her pitch and speed … These snippets were then synthesized in a process called concatenation that builds words, sentences, paragraphs. And that is how voices like hers find their way into GPS and telephone systems.

Ahhhh, so that’s how they do it. I never knew I wondered about that.

It wasn’t until she started getting calls from friends after Siri debuted in 2011 asking if it were her that she knew. She didn’t have an iphone, so she logged onto Apple’s website to listen.

"Oh, I knew," she said. "It's obviously me. It's my voice."

Have you ever wondered where Siri’s voice came from?


Image via Jenny Erikson

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