GOOG-411’s ‘Biddy Biddy Boop’

November 10, 2007

GigaOM has a nice article on the origins of the ‘fetch audio‘ sound for Google’s GOOG-411 service. This is a free 411 service that can used to find businesses from a phone, and even connect to the business for free. The service has been around for several months now, and I am a big fan.

As the article says, the funny ‘Biddy Biddy Boop’ sound that plays while GOOG-411 is searching for the business is actually a voice recording from  Senior Voice Expert Bill Byrne.

While it would be fun to say he locked himself in a room for weeks to come up with the perfect prompt, the truth is much more simple. “I needed something quickly,” said Byrne. “So I decided to just imitate the various sounds I had worked with over the years.” It was supposed to be a placeholder.

But the human-mimicking-a-machine, “biddy-biddy-boop” sound stuck. In fact, what you hear is the original recording (with a little engineering to lower the volume and add fades). It beat out numerous other ideas, including “Jeopardy”-like hold music, and (gratefully) an aborted attempt at replicating human conversation (as in an automated voice telling you “One sec, I had it right here” as you hear papers rustling in a simulated “search”).

In case you have never used this service before, you don’t have to call in to the service to hear the voice (although I would recommend it for the sheer fun). The fetch audio file is available as an mp3 at the Google Groups | goog411 site.

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