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Siri and Disability - Personal Assistant on Apple iPhone Takes Accessibility to New Level

  • Published: 2011-11-08 (Revised/Updated 2016-09-24) : Author: Disabled World : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Information on Siri the artificial intelligence on Apple iPhones including accessibility features for persons with disability.

Quote: "The genius of Siri is to combine the new type of information bot with the old type of human-helper bot"

Main Document

The iPhone 4S comes with something called SIRI, an artificial intelligence gone mainstream to consumers in an incredible way.

An intelligent software assistant and knowledge navigator functioning as a personal assistant application for iOS. The application uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services - Wikipedia

What is Siri

Siri is a personal assistant application available on the iPhone 4S, launched in October 2011. The application uses natural language processing to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to an expanding set of web services. Siri claims that the software adapts to the user's individual preferences over time and personalizes results, as well as accomplishing tasks such as making dinner reservations and reserving a cab.

Siri isn't like traditional voice recognition software that requires you to remember keywords and speak specific commands. Siri understands your natural speech, and it asks you questions if it needs more information to complete a task. Forget about stilted computer speak, Siri understands you as you would talk casually and conversationally. Say "Remind me to feed the cat when I get home," or "I'm looking for good Chinese food nearby," and Siri responds back promptly. If Siri doesn't quite understand your request, it will question you further until it finds exactly what you are looking for.

Siri works with almost all the built-in apps on iPhone 4S. And it's smart enough to figure out which apps to use to provide you with answers. It also uses Search and Location Services to help you with your requests.

" The genius of Siri is to combine the new type of information bot with the old type of human-helper bot. Instead of patterning Siri on a humanoid body, Apple used a human archetype - the secretary or assistant. To do so, Apple gave Siri a voice and a set of skills that seem designed to make everyone feel like Don Draper. Siri listens to you and does what you say. "Take this down, Siri... Remind me to buy Carol flowers!" And if early reviews are any indication, the disembodied robot could be the next big thing in how we interact with our computers. " - Alexis Madrigal, Atlantic Monthly.

iPhone 4S with Siri running on the right
About This Image: iPhone 4S with Siri running on the right
Siri uses the processing power of the dual-core A5 chip in iPhone 4S, and it uses 3G and Wi-Fi networks to communicate rapidly with Apple's data centers. So it can quickly understand what you say and what you're asking for, then quickly return a response.

After announcing that Siri is included with the new iPhone 4S, Apple removed the existing Siri app (which ran on all iPhone models) from the App Store. However, sources suggest independent developers are able to port Siri to the Apple iPhone 4, iPod Touch, and iPad.

UPDATE: the voice recognition software known as Siri has been shut down for iPhone 3GS and 4 users, making Siri exclusive to the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

The new version of Siri is integrated into iOS, and offers conversational interaction with many applications, including reminders, weather, stocks, messaging, email, calendar, contacts, notes, music, clocks, web browser, Wolfram Alpha, and maps.

Siri and Persons with Disabilities - Exciting News for the Disabled:

Siri will prove to be an incredibly useful tool for people with disability, as SIRI is much more than just voice recognition, not only does it translate audible sounds into text, but it understands your basic commands and questions. You can tell it to set a reminder for you, but more exciting than that, you can ask your phone what the weather is going to be and it will tell you, you can ask it to tell what the traffic is like around your current location and it will tell you, you can ask it to find good restaurants nearby and it will tell you.

Talk to Siri as you would to a person. Say something like "Tell my wife I'm running late." "Remind me to call the vet." "Any good burger joints around here" Siri does what you say, finds the information you need, then answers you. It's like you're having a conversation with your iPhone.

Siri as a Search Engine:

Siri will search Bing, Google, and Yahoo, the default search is Google. If you say, "Search the web for..." or ask Siri a question it can't answer it will search Google. If you say, "Search Bing for Disabled World" or "Search Yahoo for Disabled World", Siri will "fetch" the appropriate results from the search engine you chose in your query. You can also change your search settings to make Yahoo or Bing the default search engine, Siri will then search either of them instead of Google.

Currently, Siri only supports English (US, UK, Australian), German and French, and has limited functionality outside of the United States. However, Siri can be enabled in any country, and you can choose to speak to it in English, French, or German, but Siri can only currently recognize specific accents and dialects of the supported countries.

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