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The voice of the world’s most recognizable personal assistant – Siri – is actually a real person.
Susan Bennett, an Atlanta-based voice actor, was the first to give life to Apple’s personal assistant.
But she didn’t even know she was recording for Apple. And Apple never paid her directly for her voice.
Susan had been doing voice work, like singing jingles for commercials, since 2005 in Atlanta studios when one day she got asked to record some copy instead of singing.
Little did she know that this job would be responsible for making her the most recognizable voice on the planet!
For a month in July 2005, Susan recorded from home four hours a day, five days a week strange sentences like “tug cow hoist in the hut today” and “say shift fresh issue today.”
The software company needed to record her voice saying every possible English vocal sound combination. The sounds would then be able to be digitally recombined to say any words in the English language, which is how Siri eventually would get to talk.
It wasn’t until six years later, when a fellow voice actor emailed her about the new iPhone, that she realized she was the voice of Siri!
Apple never paid Susan directly for her work on Siri.
She was hired by a software company called ScanSoft, now Nuance, to record the voice snippets used to make Siri. So, they own the rights to the recordings and her Siri voice.
But thankfully, because she didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, she’s been able to use her fame to build an impressive portfolio.
She has done things like being featured on TV shows, giving a TEDx Talk, and speaking on the radio.
She’s even got jobs doing other recordings, like at Atlanta airport’s Delta gate.
There have been updates to Siri, so you no longer hear Susan’s voice when you talk to Siri.
But Susan is still proud of the work she did that made Siri such a success.
And now that it’s not her voice, she feels she can finally use Siri for herself.
She confessed: “I never talked to Siri when she had my voice — it was just too weird.”
So the next time you use Siri, take a moment and thank Susan Bennett for being so generous with her talent and making all of our lives easier!
Side note: I’ve taken many hours of my recorded voice to train my very own text-to-speech voice. That’s what I’ve been using to provide you with the narration of my articles. Hope you enjoy this added feature to my blog.
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