Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Do we want computer voices to have personality?

Do we want computer voices to have personality?

It would be a rare day that you don’t come into contact with a computerised voice. Call for support from any business — not just IT related, but anything from cooking utensils to gardening supply shops — and you’ll hit an electronic voice letting you know when to hit the right prompts to, if you’re exceptionally lucky, get through to a human operator.

You won’t necessarily get any more satisfaction out of that human operator, but then there are only so many things that computers can do, and it’s perfectly feasible to grow irritated with either computer or human voices in equal measure.

Not that these businesses actively seek to irritate their customers; that would be a rather careless way to throw them into the arms of their competitors, after all. Still, after many years of computer voices, they’re not really a great deal better than those that could be squawked out of the sound chip on an Amiga 500 nearly 30 years ago.

Still there are efforts to make those same computer voices more palatable to human ears. It’s been discovered, for example, that Apple’s Siri is to get a boost in this area in the next revision of its iOS operating system that runs iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch devices. Specifically, the sound files that Siri uses for its speech are set to be more localised, with a specific look towards a more neutral “Australian” accent.

It’s an interesting step for Apple given the relatively tiny size of the local market, but then we’ve often been the beneficiaries when it comes to Apple products.

The files were found in the beta version of iOS 7.1, which you can’t actually install unless you’re a registered Apple developer (or don’t mind lurking around some of the Internet’s shadier corners looking for files); in any case, as the beta name implies, this isn’t entirely finished and polished software, and you run the risk of more than the usual number of system crashes simply running it.

I’m not entirely convinced that it’s an entirely necessary step; the sound files that have been dug out so far (natural sounding Siri) only have the slightest of slight ocker twangs, and it’s not something that’ll fundamentally change the way that Siri works.

Given the need for sound files to travel to and from Apple for processing in order for Siri to actually function it’s somewhat like cheating in any case, but then actual real-time, on-device language processing is something that’s phenomenally complex. Offloading it to larger systems makes sense in this context — at least for now.

Share

Recent News

Microsoft has announced that anyone still using Windows 7 is essentially living on borrowed time. To be specific, the software giant has stated that it will cease offering new security updates to Windows 7 users from 14 January 2020. Windows 7 has had a solid run, given that it first became available to consumers on… More 

Popular social media destination Facebook made worldwide headlines recently, and not for the kinds of reasons that Facebook might want to be noticed. That’s because for a roughly 12 hour period, access not just to Facebook, but also Instagram and Whatsapp — all services owned and operated by Facebook — consumers worldwide had issues connecting… More 

There’s a well-known test that taxi drivers in London have to sit, called “The Knowledge”, that can take years to pass, detailing just about every street in the UK’s very disorganised capital road system. It’s tough learning that many roads, although it may have side benefits, with some studies suggesting that London black cab drivers… More 

Not that long ago, Apple surprised everyone by updating its line of Mac Mini computers. The Mac Mini isn’t like any other Mac that Apple sells. Where much of its output is in laptops, or the 2-in-1 style iMac computers, the Mac Mini is instead a “headless” computer — a fancy way of saying that… More