Apple files patent application to learn the sound of your voice
Apple seeks a patent for a technology that can "profile" an individual's voice and respond to spoken commands.
Boonsri Dickinson is a multimedia journalist who covers science, technology, and start-ups. She is a contributing editor at CBS SmartPlanet, and her work has appeared in Wired, New Scientist, Technology Review, and Discover magazine. E-mail Boonsri.
Apple, which recently filed a patent application for a technology to keep screens on mobile devices free of fingerprints, is upping the ante by filing for a new application that could keep you fingers from even touching the screen in the first place.
The application is for what Apple calls User Profiling for Voice Input Processing, which it describes as being able to identify your voice and understand complex commands. Need to make a playlist? No problem, just ask. Need to call your friend? Just say so. The patent application says all these commands are possible: play, call, and search. According to the application, it would allow the user to "find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed."
Apple's interest in voice commands is not new. In April 2010, Apple bought Siri, a small company that created an app that let users operate their iPhone with voice commands. Apple is expected to deeply integrate voice navigation technology from Siri into the upcoming iOS 5.
CNET's Josh Lowensohn previously wrote that Siri's voice technology "can listen to user voice commands to make phone calls and control music playback. Hints that Apple has been planning to improve it have been numerous, from patents to job postings."
Apple competitors are also on the voice path. Microsoft uses speech recognition services in its Windows Phone 7 OS and Google integrated Voice Control into its Android platform.