Though Apple is famously secretive about its internal operations–and did not provide comment for this article–it seems that the company previously licensed voice recognition technology from Nuance—perhaps the best known speech recognition vendor. But those in the tight-knit community of artificial intelligence researchers believe this is about to change. It’s clear, they say, that Apple has formed its own speech recognition team and that a neural-net-boosted Siri is on the way.
Corroborating this report, is one from last year that said Apple assembled a small team of speech technology experts in the Boston area. Additionally, Peter Lee, the head of Microsoft’s research arm told Wired that Apple hired one of his top managers, Alex Acero, last year. Acero had been at Microsoft for almost 20 years, researching speech technology. Apple has also hired researchers from Nuance, including Siri Manager Gunnar Evermann and hired Arnab Ghoshal, a researcher from the University of Edinburgh.
“Apple is not hiring only in the managerial level, but hiring also people on the team-leading level and the researcher level,” says Abdel-rahman Mohamed, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, who Apple tried to hire. “They’re building a very strong team for speech recognition research.”
Notably, Apple is expected to move Siri to a 'neural network' learning model that can gradually assemble an understanding of spoken words as more of them arrive. Lee says, “All of the major players have switched over except for Apple Siri. I think it’s just a matter of time.”