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Future iPhones may identify users by the sound of their voice

post #1 of 15
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Beyond recognizing voice commands, future iPhone software could use the sound of someone's voice to identify the person themselves, allowing the system to enact custom-tailored settings and access to personal content.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "User Profiling for Voice Input Processing," it describes a system that would identify individual users when they speak aloud.

Apple's application notes that voice control already exists in some forms on a number of portable devices. These systems are accompanied by word libraries, which offer a range of options for users to speak aloud and interact with the device.

But these libraries can become so large that they can be prohibitive to processing voice inputs. In particular, long voice inputs can be time prohibitive for users, and resource taxing for a device.

Apple proposes to resolve these issues with a system that would identify users by the sound of their voice, and identify corresponding instructions based on that user's identity. By identifying the user of a device, an iPhone would be able to allow that user to more efficiently navigate handsfree and accomplish tasks.

The application includes examples of highly specific voice commands that a complex system might be able to interpret. Saying aloud, "call John's cell phone," includes the keyword "call," as well as the variables "John" and "cell phone," for example.

In a more detailed example, a lengthy command is cited as a possibility: "Find my most played song with a 4-star rating and create a Genius playlist using it as a seed." Also included is natural language voice input, with the command: "Pick a good song to add to a party mix."

"The voice input provided to the electronic device can therefore be complex, and require significant processing to first identify the individual words of input before extracting an instruction from the input and executing a corresponding device operation," the application reads.

To simplify this, an iPhone would have words that relate specifically to the user of a device. For example, certain media or contacts could be made specific to a particular user of a device, allowing two individuals to share an iPhone or iPad with distinct personal settings and content.

In recognizing a user's voice, the system could also become dynamically tailored to their needs and interests. In one example, a user's musical preferences would be tracked, and simply asking the system aloud to recommend a song would identify the user and their interests.

The proposed invention made public this week was first filed in February of 2010. It is credited to Allen P. Haughay.



Another voice-related application discovered by AppleInsider in July explained a robust handsfree system that could be more responsive and efficient than current options. That method describes cutting down on the verbosity, or "wordiness" of audio feedback systems, dynamically shortening or removing redundant information that might be audibly presented to the user.

Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported earlier this year that Apple was working on improved voice navigation in the next major update to iOS, the mobile operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad. And a later report claimed that voice commands would be "deeply integrated" into iOS 5.

The groundwork was laid for Apple's anticipated voice command overhaul when Apple acquired Siri, an iPhone personal assistant application heavily dependent on voice commands, in April of 2010. With Siri, users can issue tasks to their iPhone using complete sentences, such as "What's happening this weekend around here?"

In June, it was claimed that those rumored voice features weren't ready to be shown off at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference. However, it was suggested that the feature may be shown off this fall, and will be a part of the anticipated fifth-generation iPhone.

Further supporting this, evidence of Nuance speech recognition technology has been discovered hidden inside developer beta builds of iOS 5. These features buried within the software have been hidden in builds released to developers.
post #2 of 15
Stuff like this, if not necessarily this particular tweak, demonstrates that Apple has years of product innovations ahead of them. The team in place should be able to handle this just fine.

Yes, they still need another Steve Jobs. But what company doesn't?
post #3 of 15
Well puberty done passed so no worry about voice change but hope they have fail-safes for hoarse throat and Laryngitis...
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post #4 of 15
Who shares their iPhone with multiple users? IMO, limited appeal.
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

Yes, they still need another Steve Jobs. But what company doesn't?

Given that he is Chairman of the Board and likely also a Product Design Consultant, they still have THE Steve Jobs, why do they need another one.

Also, is it legal to post an article about anything that isn't about Jobs resigning. I thought you had to wait 24 hours before talking about any other subject


Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

Who shares their iPhone with multiple users? IMO, limited appeal.


Good point.

I suspect the rumors of this feature aren't exactly reflecting truth. My guess is that the tech isn't focused on telling one voice apart from another to share a device but more in the realms of better voice identification so that the phone can recognize what you are saying. I have a bit of an accent being a Kiwi and sometimes the current iphone doesn't hear what I am saying correctly when I use Voice Control because of the way I pronounce certain sounds. Better voice recognition software would help with that.

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

Who shares their iPhone with multiple users? IMO, limited appeal.

Limited appeal?!

I'd absolutely love to have my iPhone be able to say, "Hey, you don't sound like my owner. I'm not going to let you make any calls. In fact, I'm going to report my location to the police because my owner told me to do that if someone else tries to use me."

Who the heck WOULDN'T want that?!

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #7 of 15
I would have thought any voice recognition currently on any phone is implicitly single user. Given that, I'm not seeing how identifying an individual via voice printing streamlines the operations of voice control in any way. How many people are running phones with multiple accounts that would oblige voice recognition software to parse "I" or "my" before selecting particular data sets?
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Limited appeal?!

I'd absolutely love to have my iPhone be able to say, "Hey, you don't sound like my owner. I'm not going to let you make any calls. In fact, I'm going to report my location to the police because my owner told me to do that if someone else tries to use me."

Who the heck WOULDN'T want that?!

LOL count me in the category of people NOT wanting their phones to call the police whenever someone borrows my phone :P

In all seriousness though, I reaaaally hope this makes it into iOS 5. The voice stuff really seems to be coming along and that would make it a lot easier for me to use my phone (I use it safely in the car a lot, not gonna lie). A lot of iOS stuff is "oh, neat." but nothing stands out as "whoa!" yet
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

LOL count me in the category of people NOT wanting their phones to call the police whenever someone borrows my phone :P

In all seriousness though, I reaaaally hope this makes it into iOS 5. The voice stuff really seems to be coming along and that would make it a lot easier for me to use my phone (I use it safely in the car a lot, not gonna lie). A lot of iOS stuff is "oh, neat." but nothing stands out as "whoa!" yet

There are some great apps with (android) that have voice recognition, I'm hoping they make their way to iOS as well, because they are some serious safety improvements. The biggest one is something like "Start talking" which is an app that will listen for a specific key phrase (that you set) and then you can dictate it to send a text, post to twitter or facebook without ever touching your phone. Vlingo (also on other OS's) does something similar, but I found the voice recognition to be a little lacking, even if you could do a heck of a lot more with it (Google searches, email, take notes, etc) Because of the recognition issues it's not fully hands free yet. The biggest problem with the tech though is battery life, something I hope someone fixes soon.

Talking to things to get them to do things is awesome, I'm in favor of anything that increases that option,
post #10 of 15
Aah, does anyone remember the days of Mac OS 9 where you could set a voice password to log into your computer?

It didn't always recognise you that well...
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post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by theguycalledtom View Post

Aah, does anyone remember the days of Mac OS 9 where you could set a voice password to log into your computer?

It didn't always recognise you that well...

I distinctly remember a college friend of mine showing off this exact feature - and proceeding to yell (with ever increasing volume) "My voice is my password!"over and over and over again with no response from the computer. I don't think that ever did quite work as advertised.

Ah - the memories of OS9...
post #12 of 15
"Computer, tell me a joke. Computer, tell me a joke. Computer, tell me a joke! COMPUTER, TELL ME A JOKE!"

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there? Who's there? Who's there?!!! WHO'S THERE!!!!"

Ah, screw it.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Beyond recognizing voice commands, future iPhone software could use the sound of someone's voice to identify the person themselves,

That's just creepy. No thanks.
post #14 of 15
What the phone should say if someone else picks it up is this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrXfh4hENKs
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corkurk View Post

I distinctly remember a college friend of mine showing off this exact feature - and proceeding to yell (with ever increasing volume) "My voice is my password!"over and over and over again with no response from the computer. I don't think that ever did quite work as advertised.

Ah - the memories of OS9...

This is hardly new, although I have not really seen it used at what I think is an acceptable
level.

I remember using this somewhat successfully on my PowerBook 1400 in graduate school.
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