Ever since Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant that is the main attraction of the Apple iPhone 4S, was introduced in October, there’s been tons of speculation about the voice. Just who is behind this all-knowing entity that can answer a far-reaching range of questions -- anything from where the nearest gas station pumping diesel fuel is to just what the meaning of life is?
Instead of leaving it up to our imagination to visualize Siri, one company decided the quest was the perfect showcase for exercising its 3D printing capabilities. Shapeways, a do-it-yourself 3D printing service aimed at professionals and enthusiasts, recently sponsored a contest inviting all community members, Twitter users, and hobbyists to submit their ideas of what Siri might look like via a sketch, image, or 3D CAD model. It promised that two winners would have their designs 3D printed and sold at its online store.
SagaDesign’s interpretation of “Omniscient Siri” took top honors in Shapeways’ 3D printing contest. (Source: SagaDesign)
There were two categories in the Shapeways/Siri contest: a 3D Design category for the professional modelers and an Inspiring Design category aimed at the broad audience of DIY hobbyists. The top winner was “Omniscient Siri,” a creation by SagaDesign, which interpreted Siri as a 3D face popping out of the phone -- reminiscent, in my view, of the Dementors, some of the scarier characters in the Harry Potter saga. The 3D printed object of Omniscient Siri is now available as an iPhone case on the Shapeways site for $90. The other winner was Eddie Adolf’s rendition of Siri as a punk rocker sitting at a desk fielding questions via a headset. To me, this interpretation paints Siri with a Girl With the Dragon Tattoo flair.
Actually, I am kind of surprised about that based on the science. I thought that there was a study done quite a while ago that suggested that male voices are easier to understand by the majority of people due to the lesser high frequency components. Of course, maybe there is are new studies based on the psychological component rather than purely auditory.
I would guess the switch from a male voice to a female voice is not arbitrary, Chuck. I would imagine it's been tested. The practice is prerecorded voices is well developed. I would expect the voice choices have been tested to determine which are the most effective.
To me, it seems like phone-based systems are increasingly switching from male to female voices. For years, United Airlines Mileage Plus had a male voice. Same for my credit card company. But I noticed yesterday that the Mileage Plus starts with a male, who then hands it off to a female voice, who walks you through all the menu choices.
Now that's interesting Glenn. I can imagine why the voice would be switched to male for Spanish. I can understand the preference for a female voice. I can't understand a preference for a male voice. You're right, it's probably cultural. I'm would guess it's not arbitrary.
Yes, I agree the voices are annoying. I haven't experienced Siri yet either, but I've heard tons of automated voices. I can't recall any male voices used. So maybe there is something to the notion that we respond more positively to a femaile voice.
That's a curious thing to consider, Rob. Frankly I hate those voices. I have an annoying one on my GPS in my car and it's all I can bare to stand her directing me for too long. I haven't experienced Siri yet, but I'm told by those who have that's she's amazing. I suppose if someone talks to you that long, you tend to conjure up an image.
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