There’s an interesting interview making waves on the Typeform Blog this weekend, involving the voice actor who’s audition back in 2005, little did she know at the time, would turn her into one of the most recognised voices in the modern world.
That voice is the voice of Siri – and that woman is Susan Bennett.
Explaining her chance encounter with voice acting as she was called upon after another actor failed to show for a scheduled reading, to how she became the friendly face (and voice) of the first commercially successfully ATM machine in America during the mid-70s, and eventually having her mid-2005, month-long audition used to form the basis of Siri’s future intelligent (but sassy) personality, Bennett opens up about how those little phrases she recorded more than 10-years ago have gone on to form her voice acting career, one that ultimately has Siri at its core …
Interestingly, you might be surprised to learn that the original voice of Apple’s assistant – was never too keen on technology herself:
“I’m not intuitive around machines and computers—which is one of life’s great ironies,” Bennet told Typeform.
Giving some examples of the types of phrases the actor was hired to read, in what would eventually be re-formed by Apple engineers to become Siri’s iconic human-influenced persona, Bennet reeled off a collection of seemingly non-senseical drivel:
“[…] Malitia oi hallucinate, buckry ockra ooze. Cathexis fefatelly sexual ease stump. Say the shrodding again, say the shroding again, say the shreeding again, say the shriding again, say the shrading again, say the shrudding again […]”
It was only after being involved in the recordings of these readings though, that, Bennet explains, she learned the collection of phrases she was asked to speak out that July actually consisted of every possible sound in the English language.
Sounds that would later be sent to the text-to-speech firm ScanSoft’s client, Apple, who’s engineers would -for months and years to follow- painstakingly reform the sounds into the voice and responses Siri eventually offered up to end users.
“We had no real idea of what we were doing. We thought we were doing new scripts for phone systems,” Bennet recalls.
Remarkably, Bennet had no idea she had become the original voice of Siri until Apple released the assistant in the fall of 2011. When around the same time a fellow voice actor contacted her to ask if this was her voice – having immediately recognised it.
Bennet explains that she was ultimately shocked to learn that the voice she was hearing on Apple’s website, was in fact hers …
Today Siri can be found not just on the iPhone, but the iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, Apple TV and just about every other Apple device you can think of … and Bennet, although her voice is not used in the latest versions of Apple’s assistant (a post iOS 7 switch-out of the assistant’s main voices that, the actor suggest, is due to her not having to sign a non-discolure agreement with the company – and Apple obviously preferring to keep the person behind its assistant, a mystery), has one of the coolest claims to fame to date:
Being the voice of the original Siri.
You can listen to the profound interview in full, (which includes Bennet’s personal thoughts on the increasing takeover of technology, where Siri is headed – and how we could, one day, all become redundant to virtual assistants)… over on the Typeform Blog.