Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


The problem with Siri

Marcel bought himself an iPhone 4S last week, and it quickly became apparent that Siri wasn’t very good at understanding him, and a quick video search reveals it’s a common problem for people with Scottish accents, including me (watch this one, too, if you haven’t seen it yet).

Apple claim Siri will get better at understanding its owner over time, but I’m somewhat doubtful whether it can be true.

I’m sure it can relatively easily catalogue a speaker as west-coast American or Australian or whatever (if those accents have been programmed into it), and within those types it can then store typical values for each phoneme, but given that it never asks the user to type in a word or sentence it couldn’t comprehend, how can it possibly learn anything if an accent diverges too much from its expectations?

I understand Apple want a product that people can just switch on and use, but for people with “strange” accents, surely it would be better to have the option of a dedicated training module rather than being stuck with a useless piece of software.

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