Apple's Latest Machine Learning Journal Entry Focuses on 'Hey Siri' Trigger Phrase

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Apple's latest entry in its online Machine Learning Journal focuses on the personalization process that users partake in when activating "Hey Siri" features on iOS devices. Across all Apple products, "Hey Siri" invokes the company's AI assistant, and can be followed up by questions like "How is the weather?" or "Message Dad I'm on my way."

"Hey Siri" was introduced in iOS 8 on the iPhone 6, and at that time it could only be used while the iPhone was charging. Afterwards, the trigger phrase could be used at all times thanks to a low-power and always-on processor that fueled the iPhone and iPad's ability to continuously listen for "Hey Siri."


In the new Machine Learning Journal entry, Apple's Siri team breaks down its technical approach to the development of a "speaker recognition system." The team created deep neural networks and "set the stage for improvements" in future iterations of Siri, all motivated by the goal of creating "on-device personalization" for users.

Apple's team says that "Hey Siri" as a phrase was chosen because of its "natural" phrasing, and described three scenarios where unintended activations prove troubling for "Hey Siri" functionality. These include "when the primary users says a similar phrase," "when other users say "Hey Siri"," and "when other users say a similar phrase." According to the team, the last scenario is "the most annoying false activation of all."

To lessen these accidental activations of Siri, Apple leverages techniques from the field of speaker recognition. Importantly, the Siri team says that it is focused on "who is speaking" and less on "what was spoken."
The overall goal of speaker recognition (SR) is to ascertain the identity of a person using his or her voice. We are interested in "who is speaking," as opposed to the problem of speech recognition, which aims to ascertain "what was spoken." SR performed using a phrase known a priori, such as "Hey Siri," is often referred to as text-dependent SR; otherwise, the problem is known as text-independent SR.
The journal entry then goes into how users enroll in a personalized "Hey Siri" process using explicit and implicit enrollment. Explicit begins the minute that users speak the trigger phrase a few times, but implicit is "created over a period of time" and made during "real-world situations."

The Siri team says that the remaining challenges faced by speaker recognition is figuring out how to get quality performance in reverberant (large room) and noisy (car) environments. You can check out the full Machine Learning Journal entry on "Hey Siri" right here.

Since it began last summer, Apple has shared numerous entries in its Machine Learning Journal about complex topics, which have already included "Hey Siri", face detection, and more. All past entries can be seen on Apple.com.

Article Link: Apple's Latest Machine Learning Journal Entry Focuses on 'Hey Siri' Trigger Phrase
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
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Apple wouldn't "need" to figure out the hard stuff if they just didn't allow it in the first place.

In a noisy room for instance, "Hey Siri" would just respond with "Sorry, i cannot understand what your saying"

I guess Apple likes a challenge, rather than going on the offense.
 

sundog925

macrumors 6502a
Dec 19, 2011
918
836
They're whole siri system needs an overhaul.
Its lagging so far behind others, dictation is awful, through bluetooth is worse. its just all around poor.

Even spotify's new voice control is lightyears more accurate than siri :rolleyes:
 

iamgalt

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2012
184
441
I can't say I've experienced too many unintended activations, but I do still wish apple would allow us to change the triggering phrase to whatever we wanted. That may help with unintended activations for each person.
 

recoil80

macrumors 68030
Jul 16, 2014
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I can't say I've experienced too many unintended activations, but I do still wish apple would allow us to change the triggering phrase to whatever we wanted. That may help with unintended activations for each person.
This.
In my language "eh si" can be translated into "oh yes" or "yeah" so it is something you say really often, and it is too similar to hey Siri.
I'd use "ciao Siri" like I'm greeting him before asking my question.
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
Apple wouldn't "need" to figure out the hard stuff if they just didn't allow it in the first place.

In a noisy room for instance, "Hey Siri" would just respond with "Sorry, i cannot understand what your saying"

I guess Apple likes a challenge, rather than going on the offense.
Are you saying they should take the easy way out and just give up? If the dB level is above X the trigger phrase doesn't work? That's courageous.:rolleyes: I really hope that's not what you're saying.

If Apple had taken that road, Siri probably wouldn't be able to hear commands while music is playing. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to convey (likely that I am), but it seems defeatist to take that "I can't understand" road. Siri already relies a little too much on what she found on the internet. We don't need her to develop a hearing problem as well. However successful, they should keep trying to improve Siri; not give up because it's hard.
 

Tech198

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Mar 21, 2011
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Are you saying they should take the easy way out and just give up? If the dB level is above X the trigger phrase doesn't work? That's courageous.:rolleyes: I really hope that's not what you're saying.

If Apple had taken that road, Siri probably wouldn't be able to hear commands while music is playing. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to convey (likely that I am), but it seems defeatist to take that "I can't understand" road. Siri already relies a little too much on what she found on the internet. We don't need her to develop a hearing problem as well. However successful, they should keep trying to improve Siri; not give up because it's hard.
When your dealing with voice calls, people don't continue shouting in their phone, they move to a "quieter" place.

"Hey siri" may be convenient, but why should it be more special ?
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
When your dealing with voice calls, people don't continue shouting in their phone, they move to a "quieter" place.

"Hey siri" may be convenient, but why should it be more special ?
Hey Siri isn't analogous to a voice call and has nothing to be with being more special. Siri doesn't require shouting either. Besides, "if it's noisy, make it not work" is probably not the best business plan for improving the tech. "Make it understand better regardless of the noise" seems like something more worthwhile. What you're suggesting is just another way to say it's too hard so I give up.
 
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sportpepper

macrumors newbie
Mar 23, 2014
7
8
This is more amusing than helpful, but I'll say it anyway.... Apple can help a tiny bit by ceasing to show people saying "Hey Siri" in their TV commercials. My phone has been activated by that phrase coming from the TV.
 

barkomatic

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Aug 8, 2008
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Blah blah blah, neural networks, blah blah blah, set the stage for improvements, blah. They need to actually *make* those improvements and quickly. Either that or allow us to use Google assistant or Alexa natively on the iPhone. I'm tired of Siri telling me about web searches. It's hard to believe how Apple dropped the ball that they brought to the game.
 

Bswails

macrumors regular
Jul 28, 2016
153
139
I can't say I've experienced too many unintended activations, but I do still wish apple would allow us to change the triggering phrase to whatever we wanted. That may help with unintended activations for each person.
I agree completely! I also don’t believe that saying “Hey” first is a natural way to activate Siri..it gets tiresome after while...after a few commands I naturally just say “Siri” no “Hey” is involved. But I agree being able to at least change Siri’s name would help
 

ChrisCW11

macrumors 65816
Jul 21, 2011
1,039
1,417
Siri will always be bad if all it will ever be is an "on-device" AI assistant. Without deep cloud integration it will never compete well.

Apple is trying to avoid the idea they need access to some of your information available on their cloud servers in order to make Siri a good product, so they are hyping up this idea that your phone becomes a highly specialized AI neural network, which sounds great for marketing, but in reality all it means is that Siri will find and access stuff on your phone with a massive amount of excessive engineering involved.

What Apple needs to do is recognize that there is a good balance between access and aggregation of your data vs having too much private data at their disposal, but I don't think Apple will win in this market if they draw a line land bury their heads in the sand and try to put all the power on your phone instead of taping into the power of the cloud.

I do not believe that an all or nothing approach Apple assumes about accessing consumer data is a wise business decision. Apple is hiding away from the real technical challenge of finding the right balance to make Siri a competitive assistant, so they are hyping up some nonsense AI neural network ******** that will be built into iPhone which will make is suck just as bad 5+ years from now if all it can do is scrape data on your phone and find a song or picture or web link for you.

This is once again a situation where an Apple CEO sticks foot in mouth and makes a huge public claim about how Apple will never do something, and that forces the companies hand for the next decade. Tim Cook went too hard trying to make Apple the darling of consumer privacy rights groups so now Apple will never be able to compete with Google or Amazon and try to trump up some BS iPhone AI technology platform claim trying to promote more iPhone sales in the future (and an increase in their prices as well), while Google and Amazon continue to advance their platforms by fully leveraging cloud integration.

This also isolates Apple from risk, such as what Facebook is challenged by now; by never TRYING, Apple never has to worry about failing, but its companies like Facebook that trail blazes and will ultimately strengthen the market by exposing critical failures and correcting them instead of companies like Apple that hide from innovation and wait until others have failed to figure out the minimum to move forward with.

Those who can't go into PR. Apple is the king of PR. I don't need massive amounts of AI to play a song on my iPhone, I want Siri to at least match capabilities of Google and Amazon, but it will never do so being an on-device assistant.
 

JoeInMilwaukee

macrumors regular
Apr 7, 2015
124
125
Milwaukee, WI
I agree completely! I also don’t believe that saying “Hey” first is a natural way to activate Siri..it gets tiresome after while...after a few commands I naturally just say “Siri” no “Hey” is involved. But I agree being able to at least change Siri’s name would help
Imagine what "Star Trek" would be like if everyone had to say "Hey, computer..." before every voice command.
 
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Bswails

macrumors regular
Jul 28, 2016
153
139
Siri will always be bad if all it will ever be is an "on-device" AI assistant. Without deep cloud integration it will never compete well.

Apple is trying to avoid the idea they need access to some of your information available on their cloud servers in order to make Siri a good product, so they are hyping up this idea that your phone becomes a highly specialized AI neural network, which sounds great for marketing, but in reality all it means is that Siri will find and access stuff on your phone with a massive amount of excessive engineering involved.

What Apple needs to do is recognize that there is a good balance between access and aggregation of your data vs having too much private data at their disposal, but I don't think Apple will win in this market if they draw a line land bury their heads in the sand and try to put all the power on your phone instead of taping into the power of the cloud.

I do not believe that an all or nothing approach Apple assumes about accessing consumer data is a wise business decision. Apple is hiding away from the real technical challenge of finding the right balance to make Siri a competitive assistant, so they are hyping up some nonsense AI neural network ******** that will be built into iPhone which will make is suck just as bad 5+ years from now if all it can do is scrape data on your phone and find a song or picture or web link for you.

This is once again a situation where an Apple CEO sticks foot in mouth and makes a huge public claim about how Apple will never do something, and that forces the companies hand for the next decade. Tim Cook went too hard trying to make Apple the darling of consumer privacy rights groups so now Apple will never be able to compete with Google or Amazon and try to trump up some BS iPhone AI technology platform claim trying to promote more iPhone sales in the future (and an increase in their prices as well), while Google and Amazon continue to advance their platforms by fully leveraging cloud integration.

This also isolates Apple from risk, such as what Facebook is challenged by now; by never TRYING, Apple never has to worry about failing, but its companies like Facebook that trail blazes and will ultimately strengthen the market by exposing critical failures and correcting them instead of companies like Apple that hide from innovation and wait until others have failed to figure out the minimum to move forward with.

Those who can't go into PR. Apple is the king of PR. I don't need massive amounts of AI to play a song on my iPhone, I want Siri to at least match capabilities of Google and Amazon, but it will never do so being an on-device assistant.
The “Walled Garden” phrase people like to use when talking about the closed system that is Apple could actually be used as a strong point. Is it possible to offer the same tech that makes Alexa and google better but minus the security issues? Or better yet why not allow customers that want a smarter Siri to opt in and allow Apple to extract more information from them? I’m one that pays for iCloud storage for myself and family..this would provide more value if the storage I pay for also allows Apple to even further secure my information thus allowing Siri to be bet better..those that want privacy first can keep with the less than Siri
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Imagine what "Star Trek" would be like if everyone had to say "Hey, computer..." before every voice command.
Lol. Seriously I’ve got two HomePods..one is just sitting in the box..I don’t know how much more I can support Apple if nothing starts to change this year. Every week I read an article about something new Alexa can do..
 

nitant

macrumors member
Oct 16, 2007
32
36
Maple land
Apple can post all the journals and blog entries they want. Siri sucks. (When compared to others)

As I’ve said before, they need to fire the entire team and hire new. Poach if needed. They need to JOBS THIS SOB.
While they are at it, get rid of Apple Maps too