Call it DARPA's softer side. Amid all its efforts to develop more advanced weaponry, the Defense agency also funded Siri, a personal digital assistant that usually understands your spoken question and replies in a pleasant (some might say inviting) female voice.
Of course, the voice-recognition technology doesn't need to sound like Scarlett Johansson for you to swoon over it. Siri can provide directions, search your e-mail, tell you the weather and provide sports scores.
The technology came out of research at SRI International, which led the project within DARPA's big artificial intelligence program, known as Personalized Assistant that Learns (PAL). SRI spun off Siri in 2007, and Apple acquired it in 2010. The following year, the technology became an integrated feature in the iPhone.
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