Voice of Siri: Susan Bennett Is Woman Behind Apple's Virtual Assistant

Friday, 04 Oct 2013 12:37 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Susan Bennett is the voice of Siri, the speech-recognizing virtual assistant on Apple's mobile devices.

Bennett, who lives in Atlanta, told CNN that she first became aware that her voice had been chosen by Apple for Siri when a friend recognized a similarity in the iPhone virtual assiant's voice and emailed her asking, "Isn't this you?"

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"Because I didn't have the newest version of the iPhone I went to the Apple site and that's where I heard the voice, and I just went, 'oh,'" Bennett told CNN.

Siri was introduced on October 4, 2011, on the iPhone 4S.

Bennett, a voiceover actor, laid down recordings for a client eight years ago. She had no idea at the time she would become a recognizable voice to 100 million people through a not-yet-invented phone.

"When I recorded those voices, I had absolutely no idea where they would end up," Bennett said.

Outside of Siri, Bennett can be heard on numerous other mobile devices like GPS systems, telephone systems, and at airport terminals around the world, as a voice for Delta Airlines.

Bennett, who refused to provide her age, said she entered the voice acting field in the 1970s. She was the voice for "Tillie the all-time Teller," the voice of the first ATM machines for First National Bank.

When approached by CNN, Apple refused to confirm that Bennett was the voice of Siri.

To confirm Bennett's claim, CNN interviewed an audio-forensics expert with 30 years of experience. After analyzing Siri and Bennett's voice, the expert concluded with "100 percent" certainty that the two were the same.

The decision to come forward as the voice of Siri was not an easy one for Bennett. When she first realize she was the voice of Siri, she said it was, "to be honest ... a little creepy."

"I really had to weigh the importance of it for me personally," Bennett said. "I wasn't sure that I wanted that notoriety, and I also wasn't sure where I stood legally. And so, consequently, I was very conservative about it for a long time."

"And then this Verge video came out," Bennett added. "And it seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is, and so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time."

Bennett is referring to this Verge video that was published last month that led some to think Allison Duffy, a well-known voiceover artist, was Siri.

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Duffy set the record straight that she is not the voice of Siri.

Apple's new iOS 7, the latest version of its mobile operating system, was launched in September, and reportedly has a new Siri female voice to greet and assist users. It also gives users the option of having a male voice.

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