Siri doesn’t understand the singer who gave her voice to the iPhone

Karen Jacobsen provided the voice for Siri. (Credit: Karen Jacobsen/Instagram)

Karen Jacobsen provided the voice for Siri. (Credit: Karen Jacobsen/Instagram)

In an ironic twist, the woman who provided the Australian voice for Apple’s virtual assistant Siri is struggling to use the tech tool herself.

Karen Jacobsen, a singer-songwriter from North Queensland, Australia, auditioned for Siri back in 2002.

That was long before Siri became a staple of iPhones around the world. The software was originally worked on by a company called Nuance before Apple acquired it in 2010.

“They were looking for an Australian-born voice actress living in the northeastern United States – I thought ‘that’s a description of me,'” Ms Jacobsen, 53, told MailOnline.

She recalls that it took 50 hours of work to provide all of the raw voice data for Apple, but that was spread over four hours of recording time to ensure her voice didn’t sound tired.

After all, nobody wants a virtual assistant that sounds tired.

Siri is a ubiquitous component on iPhones and iPads (Credits: Shutterstock/DenPhotos)

Siri is a ubiquitous feature on iPhones and iPads (Credits: Shutterstock/DenPhotos)

But it seems that despite having one of the most famous voices in the world, Siri doesn’t recognize Karen’s tones.

“My husband can ask her a question, my son can ask her a question; You get answers, but when I ask a question, she doesn’t understand me. We’ve experimented over and over again but it’s just the weirdest thing,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

“I don’t think it’s because I don’t speak clearly, I have very good pronunciation. I just find it absolutely confusing.’

Ms. Jacobsen, who lived in the United States for 20 years before returning to Australia in 2020, recalled that everything was mapped out when it came to developing a virtual assistant.

Karen Jacobsen

Karen lived in the United States for 20 years and provided the original Australian voice for Siri in 2002 (Credits: Karen Jacobsen/Instagram)

“They had figured out every possible combination of syllables to hack that up and create a language system based on my speaking voice. The script was huge,” she said.

Other versions of Siri are available and have been recorded by other speakers with different accents. The American female voice of Siri – which many have set as the default – was recorded by Susan Bennett.

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Justin Scacco

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