The female voice actor behind the US version of Apple's virtual assistant, Siri.
The real voice of Apple's virtual speech recognition assistant Siri has come forward to finally reveal herself after it was wrongly reported by The Verge that an actress named Allison Duffy was the voice of Siri. Not true: the actress whose voice plays every day from the speakers of the iPhone-touting millions is in fact an Atlantan lady named Susan Bennett who has stepped out via CNN to reveal her robotic alter-ego.
Ever wanted to know who was the voice behind Siri on your iPhone? Meet Susan Bennett, a voice actress from Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/KrhRqANKST— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) October 4, 2013
Far from being the futuristic multi-tasking redhead that Big Bang Theory's Raj has fantasy dreams about, Siri is in fact a suburban Atlanta-dweller who laid down the words and sounds that make up the Siri the world knows and loves in 2005, six years before Apple's iPhone 4S came out in 2011. In 2005, software company ScanSoft was looking for a new project and started searching for a talent to help record speech for automated voice technology. GM Voices, the niche company that helped place Bennett with ScanSoft have built their business around providing voiceover talent for interactive voice technologies.
Having worked as a voice actor since the 1970s, Bennett's distinctively rich voice can be heard via countless phones, GPS systems, and over the tannoy for Delta Airlines in airports.
What was Siri's birth like? Well the quick-witted, helpful virtual assistant was born over a month in 2005 where Susan would spend four hours at a time recording countless words and sounds. These snippets were then synthesized in a process called concatenation that builds words into following sentences, giving us the more natural voiceovers we're gradually becoming used to.
"There are some people that just can read hour upon hour upon hour, and it's not a problem. For me, I get extremely bored so I just take breaks. That's one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude," Bennett laughed. "Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours."
Watch The Interview With "Siri" AKA Susan Bennett:
Perhaps sadly for Bennett, who has only just revealed herself, her rendition of Siri's voice will soon be coming to an end as Apple upgrade their mobile operating system to iOS 7. So why didn't she come forward sooner as her Australian and British counterparts did? "I wasn't sure that I wanted that notoriety, and I also wasn't sure where I stood legally. And so, consequently," she admitted. "I was very conservative about it for a long time. And then this Verge video came out...And it seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is, and so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time."
Though Apple have not confirmed the news, a decision typical of the hush-hush tech industry, an audio-forensics expert with 30 years of experience cross-referenced both Siri's voice and Susan's and swears he is "100%" certain the two are the same. "I worry about how many times I get cursed every day," says Bennett who revealed that she was informed about the striking similarity between hers and Siri's voice by a colleague who emailed her.
One listen and Susan knew: "Oh, I knew," she said. "It's obviously me. It's my voice."
Marcus Graham, CEO of GM Voices attests: "Most female voices are kind of thin, but she's got a rich, full voice," he said. "Yes, she's the voice of Siri. She's definitely the voice."
The real Siri says that soon hers won't be the only voice you'll have to hear on your mobile phone if her technology predictions are correct: "I really see a time when you'll probably be able to put your own voice on your phone and have your own voice talk back to you," adding, "Which I'm used to, but maybe you aren't."