You may one day be able to chat with your iPhone or iPad docking station courtesy of Apple's Siri.
A patent application -- dubbed "Smart dock for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable electronic device" and published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office -- scopes out plans for a dock a bit more advanced than today's models.
Key to the new dock would be integration with Siri. Rather than including Apple's voice assistant, the dock would tap into Siri on your mobile device. You'd activate Siri simply by speaking or making a noise, such as clapping your hands or snapping your fingers. You could then ask Siri to perform an array of tasks through your dock, such as playing a song, sending and viewing e-mail, listening to voice mail, setting an alarm, checking the weather, and browsing the Web.
Moving beyond Siri, the dock would have its own display screen, touch interface, remote control, and Wi-Fi, as well as a speaker and microphone. Apple also envisions room for external accessories, such as a removable hard drive and a GPS sensor.
Apple describes the technology in typical patent verbiage:
A dock for a portable electronic device including a housing, a connector extending from the housing to connect the portable electronic device to the dock, a microphone integrated within the housing, and a processor. The processor is operatively coupled to receive audio input from the microphone, and in response to the audio input, transmit a message to the portable electronic device via the connector to activate a voice recognition mode of the portable electronic device.
Samsung and other companies already sell smart docks that can turn your mobile device into a small computer by connecting a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other accessories. But Apple's concept offers the added twist of Siri, letting you use your dock simply through the sound of your voice.