We learned two years ago that Apple was setting up an R&D center in Cambridge, England, to tap academic research expertise. Business Insider thinks it knows the focus of the work the team there is performing.

Those working inside are aiming to make Siri talk more naturally, according to a source that knows a number of Apple’s Cambridge employees […]

Apple’s Cambridge office is home to less than 30 people, including many of the employees from VocalIQ — a voice recognition startup that was spun out from the university and acquired by Apple in 2015.

VocalIQ is a tool specifically geared to allowing truly conversational queries …

With a British team, perhaps Siri will be honing its skills in speaking the Queen’s English, where we walk on the pavement and wear our pants inside our trousers …

The team may be a relatively small one, but BI’s source says that there is plenty of room for expansion within the center.

Apple has a number of satellite R&D centers around the world, including another one focused on Siri across the Atlantic in Boston. That, too, was likely aimed at attracting academic expertise, from MIT.

There’s of course intense competition in the field of intelligent assistants. Google upped the ante considerably with the launch of Google Assistant on the Pixel, though Siri does seem to hold its own in head-to-head tests.

Much of the original team responsible for the development of Siri have left Apple to work on their own next-generation IA, Viv. Its creators recently gave an impressive demonstration of Viv’s capabilities, since acquired by Samsung – which adds to the pressure on Apple to improve Siri.

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