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Suddenly Susan: Siri's Secret Identity Revealed

Suddenly Susan: Siri's Secret Identity Revealed
By Adam Dickter

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The voice of Siri, Apple's personal data assistant, Susan Bennett, didn't address whether it's her voice in a commercial for Microsoft's Surface RT tablet that pokes fun at Siri as it contrasts the differences between the Surface and the iPad. The spot ends with an insecure Siri sadly asking, "Do you still think I'm pretty?"
 


Now we can match the face with the voice. The woman behind the affable, slightly pedantic sound of Apple's personal data assistant Siri is Susan Bennett of suburban Atlanta.

She literally came out of the shadows on the set of CNN's morning show "New Day" Friday, to speak publicly about her iconic gig for the first time.

Recorded Before iPhone Existed

"I am the voice of Siri," said Bennett, a middle-aged woman with short reddish hair.

But although she can ask herself questions all day long, Bennett only recently gained access to Siri. "I didn't have it for the longest time," she told hosts Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, explaining that she had an iPhone 4 when the application was first made available with the 4s in late 2011. She now uses it on her iPad.

Bennett said she spent a month of four-hour sessions in July 2005 recording "all kinds of crazy sentences" for a text-to-speech program for a developer called ScanSoft. "That was before anyone ever thought of an iPhone ... besides Steve Jobs," Bennett said.

She said she has made a career of doing voice-over work for clients including Delta Airlines, Lucent Technologies and various phone-system and GPS makers.

CNN reported that Apple won't confirm Bennett's voice was the one used for Siri, but the cable news giant says experts have confirmed her voice is a match. She came forward, with a little coaxing it seems, after a tech news site, The Verge, suggested in a story that the voice belonged to another actor, Allison Duffy. Duffy later insisted it is not her.

Bennett says she's an Apple fan and her house is full of the company's products, but she wasn't aware her voice had been used for Siri until a friend emailed her and asked if it was her. Since she didn't have an iPhone 4s, she found a sample on Apple's Web site.

A Little Creepy

"It was a little creepy," she said in a video posted on CNN's web site. "I was used to hearing my voice in airports, but this was a real thing that you interact with in your hand. It took some time to get used to. But she and I are friends now."

Bennett said her "life as a machine" began in the 1970s as "Tillie The All-Time Teller," the voice of an automatic teller machine for First National Bank.

Bennett didn't address whether it's her voice in a commercial for Microsoft's Surface RT tablet that pokes fun at Siri as it contrasts the differences between the Surface and the iPad. The spot ends with an insecure Siri sadly asking, "Do you still think I'm pretty?"

Bennett did acknowledge, though, that she's being phased out as the new iOS7 adds a range of new voices for Siri, saying she was honored. "I was very pleased they used my voice. The technology is astounding."
 

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Posted: 2013-10-04 @ 2:25pm PT
Glad you came out of hiding Siri, now we know you are real!!!



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