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back to article Apple killer app Siri struggles with Indian regional accents

Apple's voice-recognition app Siri – the big new feature on the iPhone 4S – doesn't work in India because it doesn't recognise all regional accents in the country, reports website DailyBhaskar.com. The iPhone 4S launched in India last night and at midnight there were queues of keen buyers around the Bangalore Apple store. But …

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Facepalm

Like thats a surprise??

It doesn't understand most Scottish accents!!

Siri is amazing when it works but frankly as with all voice recognition it still fails more often than not for most people I know with various different Scottish region accents.

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@Gadget Rage is BAD

*I* don't understand most Scottish accents so I'm siding with Siri on this one.

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Anonymous Coward

Still, it's miles better than previous efforts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHoukZpMhDE

I can't understand some regional accents myself

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Anonymous Coward

I've a Scottish Accent ...

Edinburgh to be precise. Most voice recognition today (including Siri and Android offerings like Iris) do just fine, thanks. I've seen other regional accents AND received pronunciation fare far worse.

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Paris Hilton

No supprise

If it wasn't for email I don't know how we would do business there..

Paris - because like SIRI she can seem intelligence, until questioned further then the basics..

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HMB

If you have to justify why you're using a Paris Hilton picture, perhaps you need to think if you should be using a Paris Hilton picture.

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Do you come here often?

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Anonymous Coward

Supprise

I do hope that you are not trying to "seem intelligence" with your comment.

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Joke

Hardly fair

I mean, you can't exactly expect a bunch of coders to be familiar with Indian accents

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Not a suprise but have they considered the positive effects of this? In a country where clear spoken English is seen as a premium such technology could force users to speak with something more akin to the 'Queen's English' (or the apple equivalent).

If Siri cant understand you chances are neither can a considerable chunk of the world.

It could be used in a similar way to Sugata Mitra's work in India who I was fortunate enough to see in person at last years ALT conference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps8MwyJH8Zo

The relivant paper (possible behind a paywall)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01077.x

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FAIL

You mustn't have actually used Siri then.

I've talked to people in London, Manchester, Birmingham & Leeds and I'm continually told I don't seem to have much of an accent and that I am well spoken.

Siri understands me around 85% of the time for simple things and around 25% of the time for more complex queries. Android ICS doesn't do much better either.

Here's Windows 7 having a try:

"Speech recognition still has a very long way to go before you can be used in everyday scenarios of liability."

I said:

"Speech recognition still has a very long way to go before it can be used in everyday scenarios with reliability."

That was in a quiet room with the mic pointed at me but about 30cm away.

Even 99% accurate voice recognition would occasionally drop you in the "She is". (Censored by Windows 7)

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I was playing with voice recognition and it got a phrase reliably so I tried another. Here's how it went:

I said

'Actually, that's quite impressive'

It wrote

'Backstreet breeder of dresses'

Also to get Assistant to call me 'Dan' not 'Down' I had to use a faux American accent

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Usually

with voice-recognition facilities you get the option to correct the things it gets wrong, so that it can learn to recognise your voice more reliably.

Of course it isn't going to get it right on the first try. I speculate most of us didn't, during early childhood...

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Mushroom

I'd contend

That heavily accented Scottish folk often aren't speaking Scottish English but are speaking Scots, or a hybrid of the two. Therefore, technically, Apple hasn't mislead anyone.

English isn't the only Anglic language you know :)

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Silver badge

Not so hot, then...

I remember trying to break the old Dragon voice dictation software about ten years ago. It managed my best (worst) Rab C. Nesbitt impersonation along with any other accent I threw at it, so I'm surprised that the game hasn't improved since then. I suspect it's not a technology deficiency so much as a woefully narrow set of training data.

My pet gripe about all of these systems is that they cannot deal with names outside the normal American set. I'm Irish, and I have to say that the results of these things on Irish given names is laughable. Without good name recognition, half the functions are useless.

I understand that you can't know how every name is pronounced (and some are pronounced differently in different cultures), but I'd accept something like: "I'm sorry, I'm not sure how these names in your phonebook are pronounced. Could you say them for me so that I can learn them?"

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Anonymous Coward

Siri's voice recognition IS powered by Dragon Dictation

They both come from Nuance.

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Anonymous Coward

please to be telling me

if I need an umbrella, isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Cue Marjorie Dawes

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0358856/quotes?qt0376041

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Joke

Goodness Gracious Me..

Oh, iPhone I'm in trouble..

Well, goodness, gracious me..

For a certain built in App is not recognising me!

Command not recognised appears on the screen and I begin to scream!

"Stupidy stupid! Stupidy stupid! Stupidy stupid! Stupidy stupid damned thing!"

Then it's says "Dialing Dhumar Singh"!

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Anonymous Coward

Now they know

How we feel when we get put through to an Indian call centre...

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Joke

Obligatory...

"Change how you talk. It's not a big deal"

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Thumb Up

You forgot

"Sent from my iPhone"

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Pint

Am I the only sad bastard to remember this?

http://bofh.ntk.net/BOFH/1998/bastard98-08.php

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No, I'd have brought up that BOFH if nobody else got to it first. It was the first thing that came to mind when I saw 'voice recognition' 'can't recognize' and 'Scottish' in close proximity.

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Rain wet, sun hot, voice dialing frequently chooses the wrong entry...

Nobody who has tried to use voice dialing features will be surprised by this news.

Also, Siri is a "killer app"? Really? Really??

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Pint

"Furry boots are comfortable?"

Humans - laugh-a-minute. Ya gotta love 'em.

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sent from my android phone

android seems pick up my speech perfectly

q apple fanboys

Heh interesting way for it to cue stuff though...not to sure if that is a fail though.

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Holmes

I bet its really good at..

understanding fluent bullshit

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pleeeaasssee diiieee

Voice recognition has been around for decades, but the one flaw it's always had is that unless you speak in a slow monotone unaccented way it never ever works. This is why so little of it exists.

It's the reason so many people hate those automated phone lines, the reason secretaries still use dictation machines to write letters etc.

If a desktop PC with the latest CPU etc struggles I hardly think a mobile phone is ever going to be capable of doing it properly for everyone. But as with all apple ideas, its all about the gimmick and sadly people will still blindly like sheep fight tooth and nail for the iPhone. First apple try to act like they invented video calling and now this, its laughable.

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Anonymous Coward

The voice recognition isn't done on the phone, so there's no CPU issue.

Maybe learn a thing or two about the actual system before spouting off nonsense.

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pleeaasee fuuucckingg wooorrkkk

Voice recognition has been around for decades, but the one flaw it's always had is that unless you speak in a slow monotone unaccented way it never ever works. This is why so little of it exists.

It's the reason so many people hate those automated phone lines, the reason secretaries still use dictation machines to write letters etc.

If a desktop PC with the latest CPU etc struggles I hardly think a mobile phone is ever going to be capable of doing it properly for everyone. But as with all apple ideas, its all about the gimmick and sadly people will still blindly like sheep fight tooth and nail for the iPhone. First apple try to act like they invented video calling and now this, its laughable.

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"sheep fight tooth and nail for the iPhone"

that I would pay to see - almost

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oh, do tell....

what is a british accent? hell, you cant even say what an english accent is. the southerner where grass is pronounced graarse, the georgie where book is pronunced booook etc...

i would consider myself to have a very neutral accent but the iphone cant be relied on for voice dialling (well, my iphone4) and last time i called apple and got their automated system i had to shout 'i want to speak to a real fucking person' at it, oddly it connected me straight to a real person so it understood that ok.

the english language is too variable to get it right 100% of the time until it can understand every regional dialect. which is tough. i lived in hull for a couple of years and there are at least 3 distinct accents in that one city depending on which area people come from.

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Anonymous Coward

If human struggle with these accents then why would a computer program be any better?

Humans will get the hang of them after a while, but for a computer to do the same requires a neural net type algorithm.

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Anonymous Coward

Wonder how it'd fare in Wales

"Siri, please tell me the time of the next bus to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch."

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Bronze badge

Speak like a robot...

When I deal with automated voice systems (banks, Fedex, and so on), I just slip into "robot mode", and those systems seem to work better. And, it's fun! But, you may get strange looks if people don't know what is going on, hehehehe...

Disclaimer: I don't know what an Indian or an Irish robot voice would be like. But, I imagine that it's better if slurs and "sss" and clipped sounds are avoided. Robots probably lack accents, too.

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