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Google files for patent on Siri-like TV user interface

The patent application describes a method that lets users give a voice command through a mobile device that then interacts with a set-top box likely equipped with Google TV.

Google has filed for a patent on a technology that would let users search their program listings with only the sound of their voice.

According to Patently Apple, which obtained the patent request, Google's application describes a method of allowing users to say a voice command through a mobile device. That command is then relayed to a television or set-top box--likely equipped with the company's Google TV platform--that displays the desired information.

According to Patently Apple, the patent describes one implementation in which a user asks, "When is 'Seinfeld' on?" The software on the television then displays the title, name of the episode, and when it will be on. The patent also relates to users searching for live TV shows and turning the set on, all with their voices.

The patent's description will immediately conjure up comparisons to Apple's Siri. According to numerous rumors swirling around Cupertino, Apple is planning to launch an HDTV by the end of this year that will work with the company's virtual personal assistant. Users will be able to give a command to Siri through the iPad or iPhone, and the Apple TV will respond to them, the rumors say.

Although it might have been purely coincidental, Patently Apple says that the Google application was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just six days before Apple announced the launch of iCloud and Siri last year.

But Apple won't be Google's only concern with its voice-recognition feature. At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, both LG and Samsung announced voice-control support in their new TV lines. LG's is made possible with its new Magic Remote. Samsung's implementation is powered by its new Smart Interaction technology, which also supports gesture control.

However, those services don't have what Google is proposing: long-distance control. According to Patently Apple, the search giant's patent filing includes mention of users being able to control their televisions from within one-quarter mile of the set, thanks to their smartphone or tablet's wireless connection. The distance between the devices would be determined by the GPS built into the respective smartphone or tablet.

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with," a Google spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."