There’s a human behind every machine voice, from ATMs to airport announcements, but until now nobody knew who was the voice of the American Siri
, the female robot assistant that became part of the lives of every iPhone
owner since the debut of the 4S. It turns out, she’s Susan Bennett; she’s been doing voice work since the 1970s and had no idea the recordings she made would ever become the personification of the iPhone in her own pocket.
Back in 2005, Bennett was called upon to do voice work for a company called ScanSoft (which later became Nuance
Communications). She did recordings for four hours a day for the whole month of July, and she did them in her own home studio. (That’s right--the American Siri’s voice was recorded in a suburban Atlanta home.) She didn’t realize what that voice work would be used for until a colleague emailed her asking if this new-fangled Siri thing on the new iPhone was her. She hit up Apple
’s website, listened to some clips, and realized that it was.
Bennett says that she finally came forward because a rumor had emerged that it was someone else, one Allison Duffy, who had denied being Siri. “And it seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is,” said Bennett, “And so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time.”
Susan Bennett, the voice of Siri (Credit: CNN)
Apple won’t confirm that Bennett is Siri, and neither will Nuance, but those who have worked with Bennett’s voice claim that she definitely is, and an audio forensics expert hired by CNN confirmed it.
So the next time you get mad at Siri and say crude things, remember that you’re (kind of) shouting at the nice woman pictured above.
Something fun to ponder: Wouldn’t it be great if Bennett ended up being the voice of Cortana
, the impending personal digital assistant in Windows Phone