Siri will play a major role in Apple’s future, according to its latest patent filing, hinting a full spectrum of Apple products will integrate the voice-activated assistant.
The company filed a new patent application for Siri Thursday, which includes a diagram showing the voice-activated assistant could be included in many products and services, including computers, tablets, connected televisions, cameras, Web and e-mail platforms, and vehicles.
The patent doesn’t make clear exactly where the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will take Siri next, but it raises the possibility of branding all future Apple products with Siri technology, potentially starting with the next iPad release.
Such a move will closely tie intuitive voice recognition to Apple’s already-successful brand, and secure its leadership in the competitive voice technology race.
Apple’s patent filing specifically highlights e-commerce as an upcoming feature of its “intelligent automated assistant” and notes Siri will likely help find and buy items online, such as books, movies and music, using only voice. Adding online shopping functionality to Siri would allow Apple to closely integrate voice technology with iTunes, the iBookstore and even the App Store, and to form partnerships with outside retailers.
Possibilities like these will have Apple’s rivals scrambling to catch up with their own voice offerings. Google is likely working on voice assistant software at its Google X laboratory, and could integrate intuitive voice recognition technology in future Android devices.
Amazon has designs on the voice race as well. It purchased speech-to-text startup Yap late last year, hinting at plans to incorporate voice recognition in future Kindle e-readers and tablets.
The patent also raises the question whether Siri will stay tethered to specific products, such as the iPhone, coming into play only when a user speaks into a device or pushes a button. Apple’s patent documentation suggests the future Siri could “act as a participant” in discussion forums, chat sessions, or support calls, or that it can run other devices remotely, such as “dialing telephones, controlling light and temperature” and “controlling home security devices.”
Siri already surpassed its capacity as the iPhone 4S voice assistant when a custom home automation installer released a video showing it controlling the thermostat, lighting, and home entertainment system in a “smart home.”
Apple’s latest patent may not tell the company’s fans where Siri will show up next, but it raises many exciting possibilities, and shows intuitive voice recognition will likely be a core part of the Apple brand.
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