Here’s why Apple chose the phrase “Hey Siri”

If you have ever wondered how Apple came to choose the wake word for Hey Siri function, its latest machine learning article focusing on the Siri trigger phrase provides the answer.

According to Apple, Hey Siri was chosen because of the way it trips off the tongue:

The phrase ‘Hey Siri’ was originally chosen to be as natural as possible.

In fact, it was so natural that even before this feature was introduced users would invoke Siri using the Home button and inadvertently prepend their requests with ‘Hey Siri.’

The quote is pulled from the latest article in Apple’s fascinating Machine Learning series which details how the Cupertino tech giant is tapping the power of machine learning, artificial intelligence and its homegrown chips to add smart features to products.

Despite its brevity and ease of articulation, recognizing the wake phrase without an Internet connection bears additional challenges. For example, Apple’s early offline experiments did show that for a reasonable rate of correctly accepted invocations, an unacceptable number of unintended activations occurred.

TUTORIAL: How to temporarily disable Hey Siri on HomePod

The article goes on to explain how Apple overcame these challenges using speaker recognition which minimizes “imposter accept” and “false reject” rates. Speaker recognition is why you are asked to repeat the wake word several times when setting up Hey Siri on your device.

This on speaker recognition:

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.

Future versions of Siri may not require Hey Siri training at all, the article states.

Apple also mentions three unintended activations for Hey Siri: when the primary user says a similar phrase, when other users say “Hey Siri” and when other users say a similar phrase, the latter being described by the Siri team as “the most annoying false activation of all.”

TUTORIAL: Using Siri to create and manage alarms on HomePod

The iPhone maker’s work on Hey Siri is based on research it submitted for the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing.

What are you using Siri for these days? If you’re a Siri fan, do you have the Hey Siri feature set up on your Apple devices (and which ones)?

leave your comment below.