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Does your smartphone talk to you?


Man uses Siri on the new iPhone 4S, the widely anticipated new mobile phone from Apple

Man uses Siri on the new iPhone 4S, the widely anticipated new mobile phone from Apple

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The latest piece of artificial intelligence to rock our world is a digital gal by the name of Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant/app made famous with its release on Apple Computer's new iPhone.

Siri voice recognition software, did not originate with Apple, Siri was originally introduced by Apple as an iPhone application available in the Apple shop in 2008. The company Siri Incorporated was then acquired by Apple on April 28, 2010 for reportedly a little over $200 million. Apple re-launched the Siri app as an integral part of the iPhone 4S and iOS5 on October 4, 2011, and at the same time removed Siri from Apple's app store.

Originally, Siri was to be developed for the BlackBerry and Android-powered phones as well, however, plans for the support of any non-Apple platforms were cancelled after Apple's purchase, a savvy business decision by Apple and a testament to just how good a product Siri is. Compared to Siri, developments in voice recognition software made by Apple pre-Siri were just nowhere near as good.

How Siri Works

According to Apple, Siri can do the following tasks: use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, make recommendations, answer questions, understands your natural speech and asks you questions if it needs more information to complete a task, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services, and more.

According to artificial intelligence expert Frank Wofford, "Siri consists of three main components: a speech-to-text analyzer, a grammar analyzer, and a set of service providers."

Currently, Siri technology runs on the processing power of the dual-core A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S. The technology uses the phone's internet connectivity to access Apple's data centers.

Siri also learns, so the longer you use it the more it individualizes results.

Siri & DARPA or Who Invented Siri?

According to an Xconomy article by Wade Roush, "the algorithms that make the app [Siri} work are the product of years of defense-sponsored research at Menlo Park, CA-based SRI International and other institutions that cost taxpayers at least $150 million.

Siri is a technology that has a foundation in decades of research conducted and supported by DARPA and SRI International's Artificial Intelligence Center through two programs: DARPA's Personalized Assistant that Learns (PAL), and SRI's Cognitive Agent that Learns and Organizes (CALO). SRI funded the initial Siri research conducted by Dag Kittlaus and his team of engineers.

PAL was an adaptive artificial intelligence project for data retrieval and synthesis. The goal of PAL was to use artificial intelligence to improve data gathering by noting how a user would conduct data retrieval and synthesis and improve the results for that user for subsequent data gathering.

The PAL program funded SRI's CALO project. According to SRI, the goal of the CALO project was to create cognitive software systems, systems that can reason, learn from experience, be told what to do, explain what they are doing, reflect on their experience, and respond robustly to surprise.

In 2008, SRI founded Siri Incorporated to commercialize the results of the CALO project, Silicon Valley venture capital firms Menlo Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures poured another $24 million into the technology.

Siri Incorporated

In 2008, Siri Incorporated was founded with Norwegian Dag Kittlaus as CEO, Adam Cheyer as VP of Engineering, Tom Gruber as CTO/VP of Design, with the financial support coordinated by Norman Winarsky from SRI International's venture group. After the sale of his company to Apple, Dag Kittlaus and a team of Siri engineers stayed on for 18 additional months with Apple to develop Siri technology for the iPhone. Kittlaus has been reported to have been very happy with the sale of his company, which followed a personal call from Steve Jobs, and the integration of his product with Apple products.
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