Voice recognition technology has made major advancements over the past few years.  Early models that explored the ability to recognize single words were studied by IBM for military applications. The continued development of microchips and computer processors evolved simple one word recognition into a system of pattern recognition that understood phrases but required training the system to the individual users speech pattern. This was accomplished by reading a series of predetermined words into a microphone, enabling the program to learn an individual’s unique pronunciation.

Today we have Siri, the first commercial marketed artificial intelligence model that can recognize voice with uncanny accuracy without training.  Siri takes it a step further by being able to understand and respond to those commands using a voice of its own and a sense of humor.

Apple included Siri technology in its latest iPhone 4s. This voice recognition technology is also made available wherever keyboard input is required on the phone.  Trying to type on an undersized smartphone keyboard is no longer a problem. You just tap the keyboard’s microphone icon and speak what you need to type and the text is input for you.  This makes language translation simple and very useful on foreign trips.  Just pick a language, speak a phrase into the phone and the translation is played in seconds.  A personal interpreter with you whenever you need one.

You activate Siri by pressing and holding the center button on the iPhones’ face. After the tone you can start speaking. You can also activate Siri by just holding the phone to you ear.

Siri is also a personal assistant. It can execute a host of commands on the iPhone, like dialing numbers, composing and sending mail or text messages, playing music, finding stores or websites, mapping destinations from where you are now (GPS locator). The one I find most useful is making appointments on the calendar app.  Not only is the appointment placed on the calendar it is also synced with your computers through Apple’s iCloud technology.

As I mentioned before, Siri is programmed with a sense of humor.  Siri’s responses to certain questions are quite entertaining. Here are some examples of responses I experienced.

Open the pod bay doors Siri!

We intelligent agents will never live that down, apparently.

Beam me up Siri!

3G or WiFi?

Talk dirty to me Siri!

Sorry, I’m not able to do that. I’m pure as the driven snow.

Talk dirty to me!

Humus, Compost, Pumice, Silt, Gravel

In addition to Siri, the iPhone 4s also sports an upgraded processor and 8 megapixel camera with increased light sensitivity, face recognition and 1080p HD video recording.  All of the photos on my last post Change were taken with the iPhone 4s.  I also find the new camera to have increased color accuracy and exposure metering. iCloud technology makes your photos available on all of your devices just minutes after taking them. There is no longer a need to physically connect the phone to the computer. All software updates are now done wirelessly.

Siri technology exceeded my expectations. I upgraded to the iPhone 4s for the new camera but was pleasantly surprised to find just how useful (and entertaining) Siri could be.

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2 thoughts on “Siri

  1. You know how much I dislike Apple (Steve Jobs actually), but I have to say , I’m very glad that they’ve finally stepped into voice recognition. Ive been a fan of it from when I discovered it 2 phones ago. Windows mobile has had a it in there phones forever, but it really, really sucked. Even after training it for like a half hour, it still would screw up every other word. Kudos to apple for being patient with it. I got an android captivate a few months ago, and the new recognition tech was unbelievable. No training at all. My favorite part was verbally sending text messages, as I have fat fingers and those on-screen keyboards are meant for three tear old fingers. After that I decided to give Dragon Naturally speaking a try for my computer. I’m not sure if Apple has a similar program or if its available for Apple but, it is insanely awesome, especially since taking up writing. I am very anxious to see where it goes in the future because I feel its the near future for computing, followed of course by 3d laser sensitivity which would eliminate the need for mice and keyboarding. So anyway, thanks for the post as always Jerry, and if you get a chance, let us know if Siri also works for your ipad and base system, I’m interested to find out more about the new technology. Quick question, can you shut off Siri’s voice if you don’t want to listen to it By the way, this post was transcribed by Naturally speaking.Makes writing so great when you can’t type!

    • Thanks for the reply Steve.

      Siri can be turned off altogether. When it is on, voice feedback can be changed from always on to hands free mode only. You can also turn off the feature that starts Siri automatically when the phone is brought up to your ear. I can see where that would get annoying. When Siri starts you are greeted with two tones letting you know you can start speaking, sort of like an answering machine. So far Apple is only implementing the Siri feature in the iPhone 4s and there are no plans to retrofit previous models. The iPad2 does not have Siri, although I imagine the next iPad incarnation will. I can see Siri implemented in the next Apple OS as an accessibility feature.

      With previously owned iPhones I used the Dragon dictation app to take notes, make shopping lists, etc. but it was not integrated into the system, so you were limited to saving the notes or emailing the finished note manually. Having voice recognition available whenever keyboard input is required is a blessing to those who have experienced the onset of Presbyopia. You should have about six good years left before the old lenses start to harden.

      A brief history describing the origin of Siri can be found in this Wired magazine article:

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