The real life voice of Apple’s Siri has finally revealed herself and has stepped out into the public eye, after the original voice of Siri has been phased out.
Susan Bennett, a voice actress since the 1970s, did a project for ScanSoft back in 2005. Like most Apple projects, Bennett had no idea what the product was or what her voice was, ultimately, going to be used for. It wasn’t until the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, that Bennett discovered what her voice had become.
In an interview with CNN, which was aired Oct. 4th, Susan Bennett came out to the world as the original voice of Siri. She describes how she spend a solid month, four hours a day, saying various sentences and phrases that seems to make little sense to her at the time.
It is interesting to note that she did this voice over work before the release of the first iPhone back in Jan. of 2007. Whether the original intent was for Apple’s Siri or not, Bennett’s voice found it’s way into the first version of Siri with the iPhone 4S in 2011.
Susan Bennett has had a long career as a voice over actress, which stated in the 1970s. Bennett lives and works out of Atlanta, GA, which has a variety of companies that specialize in voice over acting.
While she has done radio and television acting for commercials, she was also one of the first people to participate in voice over work for text-to-speech programs. In her interview she recounts an experience with Lucent Technologies, where they put a laryngograph on her as she spoke the various words, sentences, and phrases for the company.
Bennett found out from a friend that Siri sounded a lot like her and, since she did not have an iPhone 4S, she went to the website and immediately identified her voice as Siri. She has been hesitant, up to this point, to reveal who she is for various reasons, until she went on CNN to discuss it openly.
While many Apple customers may prefer to not know the human behind the technology, Bennett’s coming out does make us aware of the fact that it is an actor who contributes their voices to these sophisticated pieces of technology. It is not some magical technology that creates the sounds, but pieces them together from what a voice actor has recorded.
Even as the revelation may demystify, to some extent, the “voice in the machine,” it does bring up an interesting point about how this process actually works. How a voice goes from words and sentences to being cut up and used, properly, to speak back to us. It definitely show how we, as humans, like to be social, even with inanimate, non-sentient objects.
Voice feedback is finding its way into most of our technologies today, from cars, to phones, to computers, navigation systems, and used in a variety of situations by companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. However it is being used, you can be sure there is a Susan Bennett behind the voice, at least until the technology evolves beyond the need for a human actor and human voice.
Written by: Iam Bloom