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Voice of Siri Susan Bennett speaks out

The voice of Apple's virtual assistant Siri in the U.S. is Susan Bennett, a prolific machine-voice talent.
Posted By KRISTEN BUTLER, UPI.com   |   Oct. 4, 2013 at 8:50 AM   |   Comments

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Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Today is the second anniversary of Apple's unveiling of Siri, the virtual assistant on iPhones and other iOS devices, and the voice talent behind the virtual assistant has spoken out.

The voice of the U.S. Siri has long been anonymous, but she finally decided the time was right to speak out to CNN.

"I am the original voice of Siri," Bennett revealed.

Asked why she waited until now to come out, Bennett said "I wasn't sure I wanted the notoriety, and I wasn't sure where I stood legally."

Indeed, Apple has not confirmed that Bennett is the voice of Siri, but Bennett says the voice work was done in 2005 at GM Voices on behalf of ScanSoft, which was working on an undisclosed project at the time.

When the iPhone 4S debuted, friends and family instantly recognized Bennett's voice and asked if it was her. An independent audio-forensics expert told CNN he is "100 percent certain" Bennett is the voice of Siri.

Bennett's lawyer, though he cannot confirm the details of confidential contracts, revealed he's had "substantial negotiations" with "parties along the economic food chain" regarding Bennett's work as the voice of Siri.

Bennett fell into voice work back in the 1970s, and you may recognize her as a voice of Delta terminals in airports all over the country. Before that, she was the voice of the first ATM. She may also have recorded the interactive response telephone system where you work, or the GPS system you use in your car.

As for why Siri sometimes sounds like she has a bit of an attitude?

Bennet says she sat in her home recording studio for hours on end voicing "nonsensical" words and phrases so that the "ubergeeks," as she calls them, could extract vowels, consonants and syllables, and synthesize the snippets in a process called concatenation to build words and sentences.

"That's one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude," Bennett said. "Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours."

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