Siri’s Co-Creator, Adam Cheyer, Confirms He Has Left Apple

9/11/12Follow @wroush

Adam Cheyer, the chief technical architect behind the Siri virtual personal assistant technology in Apple’s iPhone 4S, confirmed a report today that he has resigned from Apple.

“I left Apple for personal reasons some time ago,” Cheyer told Xconomy by e-mail today.

Formerly a director of engineering in Apple’s iPhone group, Cheyer has not taken a position with another company, and says he currently has “no future plans.”

Bloomberg first reported on rumors of Cheyer’s departure this afternoon, citing three unidentified sources.

The news is unlikely to take any wind out of the sails at Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). The company, whose soaring stock price has made it the most valuable corporation of all time, is thought to be poised to unveil its next-generation iPhone at a press event in San Francisco tomorrow. While Apple has been criticized (and, in fact, sued) for exaggerating Siri’s capabilities in its TV advertisements, the voice-driven personal assistant has significantly raised the stakes in the cutthroat competition between the leading smartphone makers, and is certain to be a prominent feature of the iPhone 5.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also indicated, at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference this summer, that Siri will come to the latest iPad model this fall when the company releases iOS 6, the next version of the operating system for the iPhone and the iPad.

“I’m obviously still very bullish on the future for Siri,” Cheyer told Xconomy.

Cheyer was vice president of engineering at Siri, a spinoff of Menlo Park, CA-based SRI International, before the startup was scooped up by Apple in April 2010 for a reported $150 million to $250 million. Before that, Cheyer was chief architect for SRI’s CALO project, the defense-funded artificial intelligence project where much of the machine-learning and search technology behind Siri was first developed.

Cheyer is also a founder of Change.org, a “social action platform” where Internet users can start online petition drives, and Genetic Finance, an early stage firm that plans to apply advanced artificial intelligence to problems in financial trading, insurance, computer networking, electronics design, and other “problem spaces with high dimensionality.”

Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus also joined Apple in the acquisition, but left the company in October 2011. Siri’s third co-founder, product designer Tom Gruber, remains at Apple, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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