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Apple is training Siri to understand people who speak with a stutter

This is long overdue.

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Image: KnowTechie

As someone who stutters daily, I can’t begin to tell you how hyped I am for this news. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is figuring out how to train Siri to understand people with speech impediments like a stutter.

To get the ball rolling, the company is extracting audio samples from Apple Podcasts to train Siri to understand all the different kinds of speech. So far, Apple has a built a database of 28,000 audio clips from podcasts it discovered to find someone studdering. Here’s a clip from the WSJ report:

The company is now researching how to automatically detect if someone speaks with a stutter, and has built a bank of 28,000 audio clips from podcasts featuring stuttering to help do so, according to a research paper due to be published by Apple employees this week that was seen by the Wall Street Journal.

How they’re going to use this data is a bit unclear. When pressed for comment, an Apple spokesperson declined to comment on how Apple may use its findings. Ideally, though, this will allow the company’s artificial intelligence to learn more of the full range of language and bring its assistant closer to full accessibility.

Pulling this off isn’t so easy, though. Generally speaking, voice assistants can recognize most normal speech because it has similar vocal patterns, regardless of their accents. However, atypical speech patterns, like a stutter, can be more difficult for AI to detect.

Regardless if this project succeeds or not, I’m just glad to see companies like Apple finally addressing the issue of accessibility in voice assistants like Siri. I mean, heck, these things have been around for at least 10 years now – better late than never.

Do you have a stuttering problem? Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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