Friday, October 20, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

How “Hey Siri” Works


To avoid running the main processor all day just to listen for the trigger phrase, the iPhone’s Always On Processor (AOP) (a small, low-power auxiliary processor, that is, the embedded Motion Coprocessor) has access to the microphone signal (on 6S and later). We use a small proportion of the AOP’s limited processing power to run a detector with a small version of the acoustic model (DNN). When the score exceeds a threshold the motion coprocessor wakes up the main processor, which analyzes the signal using a larger DNN. In the first versions with AOP support, the first detector used a DNN with 5 layers of 32 hidden units and the second detector had 5 layers of 192 hidden units.

Apple Watch presents some special challenges because of the much smaller battery. Apple Watch uses a single-pass “Hey Siri” detector with an acoustic model intermediate in size between those used for the first and second passes on other iOS devices. The “Hey Siri” detector runs only when the watch motion coprocessor detects a wrist raise gesture, which turns the screen on. At that point there is a lot for WatchOS to do—power up, prepare the screen, etc.—so the system allocates “Hey Siri” only a small proportion (~5%) of the rather limited compute budget. It is a challenge to start audio capture in time to catch the start of the trigger phrase, so we make allowances for possible truncation in the way that we initialize the detector.

1 Comment

Thanks for this excerpt. I saw the article referenced elsewhere and started reading it, but the article got more technical than I could follow before it said anything I found interesting, so I stopped reading ;-) But your excerpt is exactly the kind of informative and mostly-understandable info I was hoping to find!

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