Siri’s British voice speaks for himself

November 10, 2011

How did Siri find a voice? Three weeks of recording over five thousand sentences, according to Jon Briggs, the man behind the calm and soothing tones of the digital assistant’s British version of Apple’s digital assistant. In an interview with The Telegraph, Briggs said that he only found out that he was the voice of Siri when he saw commercials for the iPhone 4S on television.

Briggs originally recorded the voice-over material for a company called Scansoft about “five or six years ago,” he told the newspaper. He made his way to the iPhone by way of Scansoft’s merger with Nuance, the company that works with Apple on the Siri program.

According to the report, Apple contacted Briggs and asked him not to discuss his role in the program, but stopped contacting him after he reminded the company that he had no contract with them.

Still, he said, he has no hard feelings against Apple. “I love Apple’s products, and I think Siri is a game-changer,” Briggs said, adding that he’s tickled to be a small part of such a “clever idea.”

His voice also features in GPS navigation systems and in services run by the British Computer Association for the Blind. Briggs said he’s pleased to be a part of a technology that “suddenly enfranchises a whole group of people who, for whatever reason, can’t type.”

Related stories:

Apple says ‘no plans’ to bring Siri to older devices

Apple’s Siri shows she’s only a beta

Siri works even when phones are locked

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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