Beyond Borders: The Story of the Australian Voice Behind GPS Navigation

Karen Jacobsen, an Australian singer and voiceover artist, has become an indelible part of our daily routines. Her voice a constant guide to navigate us through unfamiliar territories. Having recorded more than 50 hours of audio in 2002, she became the original voice of GPS, with her voice shaping the way we understand and interact with technology today.

Hailing from Toowoomba, Queensland, Karen’s journey to become a globally recognised voiceover artist is as fascinating as it is inspiring. Having moved to New York, she pursued her passion for singing and answered an advertisement looking for a native Australian female voiceover artist residing in the northeast of the United States.

With meticulous attention to detail, the team of engineers working on the project had to figure out every combination of syllables possible, allowing Karen to record different lines that were then chopped up to create the voice system based on her speaking voice. The word “approximately” was one such phrase that had to be repeated 168 times in a row!

Interestingly, it is the phrase “recalculating” that has become synonymous with Karen’s voice, leaving a lasting impression on countless drivers. Her neutral tone, however, did not intend to sound judgmental but instead served as an indicator that the GPS system was updating based on the driver’s changes in route.

Thanks to Great Big Story, we now know the face behind the voice that has navigated us through countless journeys. Karen Jacobsen, the voice of GPS, is a testament to the power of pursuing one’s dreams and the extraordinary places that they can lead us to.

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