Brazilians are sick and tired about the lack of attention Apple gives to the brazilian market, mainly due to Brazil´s insane taxes. Despite the huge number of consumers of Apple products here, who pay the highest price in the world to get their hands on Apple´s gadgets, there are no Apple stores in Brazil, no games in the App store and, of course, no intention to have a SIRI version for the portuguese language.
However, a 15-year-old boy named Pedro Franceschi has just amazed the tech community in Brazil with an ingenious hack.
He made SIRI work in portuguese using some sofisticated workaround.
Here is a very cool video showing him talking in portuguese to SIRI:
First, he used the Dragon dictation app, which turned portuguese voice inputs into portuguese texts. After running them through a text translation API, he obtained the english texts. Then he used MAC OS´s text-to-speech API to get the sounds in english, which in turn reached the SIRI´s core engine, returning the answers to his questions.
All those processes involved some serious hacking and even fourier time series processing to improve the precision of the final result in english.
While this clearly doesn´t mean that SIRI will work in Brazil, this helps showing the world the amazing capabilities of brazilian developers (Pedro collaborated with his colleagues while building this solution) and the big interest or brazilians having the finest technologies as soon as they are launched.
What most people don´t seem to understand though is that SIRI is NOT just about answering simple questions. It is the first realization of a semantically integrated knowledge engine, which relies deeply in the Wolfram Alfa service that supports mainly english.
Of course this workaround would not help SIRI understand any sentence that would involve semantic referencing from portuguese texts.
What can we learn about this?
If Apple keeps away from the brazilian market because of our high taxes, they could be knocked out of the brazilian market by Google´s Android and Majel, it´s version of SIRI, which probably should support the portuguese language.
If the brazilian government doesn´t change their bureaucracy, lack of support for entrepreneurs and huge taxes, we will see people like Pedro Franceschi working on Apple jailbreaks, workarounds and other kind of stuff instead of using all his potential to develop some serious technology.