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Siri, Evi and a future where 'everything will be controlled by voice'

Karen Haslam | Sept. 11, 2012
Industry experts are predicting that in a few years time we will all be talking to lifts and our stereo systems, and feeling puzzled if they don’t respond to us.

We noted that most of the time Siri can't answer your question and sends you to Google. "Exactly. It's saying, I can't do it, why don't you try a search," he replied.

We speculated that while some people suggest that Siri shipped too soon, the service needed to ship in beta form in order to build up its data banks. "I agree with that completely," answered Tunstall-Pedoe.

However, there has been speculation that the version of Siri Apple shipped on the iPhone 4S wasn't as good as the original Siri app that Apple purchased. In fact, Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak criticised Siri for not being as good since Apple bought it.

Woz claimed that before Apple bought Siri the service would return useful results and "that was pretty incredible". "This was the future: speaking things in normal ways, feeling like you're talking to a human and how Siri was the greatest program," Wozniak said.

Tunstall-Pedoe explained the background: "The Siri app that the start up Siri had is a different product to the Siri that's in the iPhone. In many ways it's now more limited, but it's embedded in the operating system. So the Siri that you currently see is part of iOS, while the start up that Siri Inc has was an app like any other app, which actually did a lot more. When Apple bought it they essentially started again. I can't comment for Apple on why that was. But there is some truth to that. The technology is still the same," he added.

Cloud security and voice recognition

Another issue that has emerged is whether there is a security risk associated with associated with this new world of voice interpretation that requires our voice requests to be sent to servers in the cloud for interpretation. F-Secure made a warning back in June that when your voice is sent out to servers for interpretation, it could allow for phishing scams and security breaches. IBM has already banned its staff from using Siri for that very reason.

Why is this a problem, we asked? Tunstall-Pedoe explained: "At the moment speech recognition needs to happen in the cloud, it needs big computers for processing. With Siri your voice gets sent off to the cloud for processing. So if you are very security conscious it's not possible to confine that within the building, which is what I suspect is behind IBMs concerns."

"But this is a general problem with cloud," he added: "Just think of the amount of information that Google has. Search details, along with the IP address, emails, all stored on Google servers. This is a fundamental problem with the cloud. If you use any kind of cloud service, the data is transmitted to the cloud and logged there in order for it to work."


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