Apple assembling speech recognition tech team in Boston to improve Siri

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple has put together a small team of experts in speech recognition technology in Boston, in an effort to bolster its voice-driven Siri personal assistant service.

Siri


Details of Apple's hiring push in Massachusetts were revealed on Friday by Xconomy, which discovered a series of online job profiles for the new hires. The details reveal that those personnel brought onto Apple's team are working on the Siri team.

Apple's Boston team is said to have previously worked at a company called VoiceSignal Technologies, which was purchased by Nuance in 2007 for $293 million. Nuance's voice recognition technology is currently used for Siri's language detection capabilities.

But as a third-party company, Nuance also licenses its technology to Apple's competition, including Samsung and Google. It's possible that Apple's voice team in Boston could be an effort by the company to produce its own proprietary technology that wouldn't need to be shared with competitors.

Apple has had an office in Boston's Kendall Square for some time, as the local presence was first revealed by the Boston Globe in January. The office is part of the Cambridge Innovation Center, but its purpose was previously unknown.

Though Apple is still primarily based out of Cupertino, Calif., the company has expanded its American research, development and corporate support presence in recent years with new major operations across the country. In addition to its major operations center in Austin, Tex., Apple also has a chip development team in Orlando, Fla., and a number of fingerprint sensor experts in Melbourne, Fla., along with major data centers in Oregon, Nevada and North Carolina.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    dilliodillio Posts: 106member
    Siri should be taught the following new tricks:
    -how to work with the headphone button. For all intents and purposes, it's useless via the headphones button, when I ride my bike. The timing is off, that by the time I start speaking the command, I hear the Siri-out tone. Very frustrating!
    -how to change any setting on the iPhone: ex. turn off/on Wi-Fi, etc.
  • Reply 2 of 37
    bigdaddypbigdaddyp Posts: 811member
    Well, if they can get Siri to understand a Boston accent, she will be able to understand just about anybody. Except the Scott's. :)
  • Reply 3 of 37
    jessijessi Posts: 302member


    This is the right move for Apple.  They tried to buy Nuance, but were unable to.


     


    More importantly, as mobile devices become more powerful, and Apple is able to add increasingly sophisticated special processors to their AX SoCs, the opportunity for better voice support are only increasing. 


     


    There's no way Apple could do this with Nuance.  SIRI would be much better if it didn't require an always present net connection to work, thus voice recognition on the device is a key future direction. 


     


    It's also something that a company like Google will not be able to rip off. (Though they will pretend to have done so, as they always do.)


     


    Voice Recognition is not a trivial problem, either, so dependance on a third party who may not share your priorities for features or concern about quality is even worse than in other cases (like Maps).

  • Reply 4 of 37

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post



    Well, if they can get Siri to understand a Boston accent, she will be able to understand just about anybody. Except the Scott's. image





    Be careful insulting the Scots. You'll make an enemy for life


     


  • Reply 5 of 37
    unicronunicron Posts: 154member
    I hate that Siri takes up the entire screen -- especially when I'm using Maps for turn-by-turn directions.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Why does Siri have to be a girl, I want a sexy Hugh Jackman voice. I would defiantly use it more that's for sure, Suri, would you love me if I was fat, absolutely darling, I love you Siri.
  • Reply 7 of 37
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member


    How d'ya like them Apples?

  • Reply 8 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by johnnyb0731 View Post


    Be careful insulting the Scots. You'll make an enemy for life


     




     


     


  • Reply 9 of 37
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post



    Well, if they can get Siri to understand a Boston accent, she will be able to understand just about anybody. Except the Scott's. image



    Even I can't understand Scottish Star Trek


  • Reply 10 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Jessi View Post


    They tried to buy Nuance, but were unable to.



    Do you have any citations? I never heard this before. It is pretty obvious that Nuance has a huge market cap (6B) and is involved in lots of things that Apple would probably never want to deal with, but I always assumed that they never even considered trying to buy them.

  • Reply 11 of 37
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    ascii wrote: »
    Even I can't understand Scottish Star Trek
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT08xFj836I

    Hehe, That's nothing, I speak Swiss German(Schweizerdeutsch), much, much different sounding then High German(Hochdeutsche). Siri has no idea what I'm saying half the time.

    This guys pronunciation is horrific but it's get my point across. I do like it when Americans try to speak our language though, it's so cute. I live about 15 minutes from where this video was taken.
    [VIDEO]<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cAQ7oG1Q3DE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/VIDEO]
  • Reply 12 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,615member
    mstone wrote: »
    Do you have any citations? I never heard this before. It is pretty obvious that Nuance has a huge market cap (6B) and is involved in lots of things that Apple would probably never want to deal with, but I always assumed that they never even considered trying to buy them.

    Agreed. I never heard that news either and find no references to it. On the other hand there are several bloggers who suggested Apple should look into doing so. That's probably where the confusion (?) originates.
  • Reply 13 of 37
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post



    Well, if they can get Siri to understand a Boston accent, she will be able to understand just about anybody. Except the Scott's. image



     


    lol that was my first thought on reading the headline.


     


    Is Siri going to start pronouncing anything that ends in 'r' as 'ah' and anything that ends in 'a' as 'r'?


     


    car = 'kah'


     


    area = 'aree-ar'

  • Reply 14 of 37
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Relic View Post



    This guys pronunciation is horrific but it's get my point across. I do like it when Americans try to speak our language though, it's so cute. I live about 15 minutes from where this video was taken.


     


    Any tutorial that includes chocolate, wine and beer in the Top 10 Words gets my thumbs up.
  • Reply 15 of 37
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    ascii wrote: »
    Any tutorial that includes chocolate, wine and beer in the Top 10 Words gets my thumbs up.

    Yeah, I know right. I think I'm personally responsible for a very large portion of our chocolate exports. All of my friends who live outside of Switzerland are always asking for more chocolates, in my house right now I probably have over 100lbs of the stuff.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Apple's Boston team is said to have previously worked at a company called VoiceSignal Technologies, which was purchased by Nuance in 2007 for $293 million. 


     


    Yes, Nuance is infamous for buying up most of its competition... often after softening them up with long, expensive patent lawsuits.


     


    Quote:


    But as a third-party company, Nuance also licenses its technology to Apple's competition, including Samsung and Google. 



     


    Nuance's CEO says they do NOT provide any technology to Google.  


     


    Samsung and HTC, yes.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Jessi View Post


    It's also something that a company like Google will not be able to rip off. (Though they will pretend to have done so, as they always do.)



     


    Google has no need to.  Google's neural net based voice recognition is amazingly accurate.


     


    If anything, Apple is doing this because Nuance isn't as good.

  • Reply 17 of 37

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    How d'ya like them Apples?



    You have succeeded in hunting for good will

  • Reply 18 of 37
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member


    "Siri - Can I paak ma caa in Haavad Yaad?"

  • Reply 19 of 37
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KDarling View Post


     


    Nuance's CEO says they do NOT provide any technology to Google.  



     


    That explains it.  I was wondering how people were posting that Siri has unreliable voice recognition when my Android phone is consistently spot on if they were using the same technology.

  • Reply 20 of 37
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member


    Originally Posted by Relic View Post



    This guys pronunciation is horrific but it's get my point across. I do like it when Americans try to speak our language though, it's so cute. I live about 15 minutes from where this video was taken.


     


    Ich bin ein Berliner!


     


    ("I am a Berlin-style jelly-filled Pfannkuchen doughnut!")

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