Ever had your Google maps narrate directions during your commute, or had Siri interrupt your conversation for no reason at all and just think “wow, that voice is sexy”? Sure it’s definitely weird of you to think that, but it’s also totally normal. Tech companies put big money into making these voices as pleasant as possible. They want you to believe these personal assistants are real so you feel comfortable conversing with them on a regular basis. Keep it in your pants Joaquin Phoenix, it’s still robots talking to you, but these voices did come from real people. Ever wonder what these voices look like in real life? We did, too. For the most part, tech companies keep the source of these voices secret, but below is a list of the ones we could find. Now you can put a face to the voice.
Siri – Susan Bennett
Even if you don’t have any apple products, chances are Siri has interrupted your conversation at least once just to say “Sorry I didn’t quite get that.” Like most other companies, Apple originally tried to conceal Siri’s true identity, which wasn’t hard because even the voice actor, Susan, didn’t realize what she was doing. They basically had her sit in a room for 4 hours a day for one month recording various sentences and words that made no logical sense. Apple still hasn’t confirmed Susan as the official voice of Siri, but several voice studies show that she is in fact the source.
Cortana – Jen Taylor
Whether you’re fighting off the Flood on an alien planet, or asking for directions to the local grocery store, Cortana is the personal assistant you want by your side. Microsoft was so impressed with Jen Taylor’s performance as Cortana in the Halo Video Game series that they decided to reuse the same voice and character for their personal assistant available on Google Devices. A seasoned veteran, you can hear Jen in other games such as Left for Dead or as Peach and Toad in the Mario Series.
GPS – Karen Jacobsen
No doubt you’ve heard Karen’s voice telling you to turn left or recalculating when you ignored the first direction and got lost. An Australian native, Karen is somewhat of a pioneer in voice acting having been the voice of GPS systems since 2002 for brands such as Garmin, TomTom, and Mio. Now she makes her living as a motivational speaker with the tagline “It’s not too late to recalculate”.
Sony Xperia – Minako Kotobuki
Sony’s personal assistant Xperia is not as well known as some of the other devices, but the system’s voice is among the most pleasing to hear. The product team auditioned many voice actors with the goal of finding that one voice that users could listen to all day and not get annoyed. They found this in Japanese Pop Star Minako Kotobuki. Lucky for you, you don’t have to say her name to get her attention.
Amazon – Alexa
Amazon’s Alexa is for sure the AI that is going to lead the machine’s against us. We already know Bezos is using her to spy on us and record everything we say around her, but that’s ok because her voice is surprisingly pleasing for a robot. What’s even scarier about that is the fact that Alexa’s voice actually doesn’t come from any one voice. Unlike the other systems, Alexa is 100% computer generated. Amazon has developed a proprietary system that allows Alexa to convert text to voice the same way a human would. What does this mean? If Robots did take over the world we wouldn’t even know because they sound exact like humans.
It is believed that Google originally used a voice actor for their system but has kept it classified so people truly think of the assistant as a computer and not a human. Since the original recordings, Google has developed a software, similar to Amazon, that allows the assistant to sound just like a human being. To provide additional voice options, Google has recruited celebrities to provide the voices for the assistant including people like John Legend. John Legend? He has the voice of an angel. First AI is going after our jobs, now they’re going after our women? This can’t be good for men.