Siri could recognize user's voice patterns for identification in future iPhone or iPad

Posted:
in iOS
Apple is continuing to come up with ways to secure its devices while still making it as easy as possible to use, with one concept involving unlocking an iPhone or iPad and performing a Siri request, but only if the voice it hears matches that of its owner.




Granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, the patent for "Device access using voice authentication" is relatively straightforward, namely detecting the speaker's voice for a vocal request and determining if it is the main registered user.

According to the patent, a device capable to receive speech input from a user could conceivably create a "voice print" for the owner, using multiple examples of their speech. This text-independent voice print would determine characteristics of the user's voice to create a model, either on the device or via an external service, with the result being the point of comparison for future checks.

The voice print could use "statistical models of the characteristics" of a user's pronunciation of phonemes, to create the signature. In theory, this could include characteristics such as voicing, silences, stop bursts, nasal or liquid interference, frication, and other elements.




By being text-independent, the voice print would theoretically be able to determine the speaker's identity just from normal speech, without requiring the use of a specific passphrase. This would be a better way of dealing with voice-based authentication in public situations, where users may not wish to loudly state a passphrase they would rather keep private.

At the time the device receives a vocal command, it effectively creates a model based on the uttered phrase, which it then compares against the already-established voice print. If there is a certain threshold met for similarity, the device could be unlocked then carry out the spoken command.

It is also suggested a voice print match may not need to unlock the phone entirely, but could still enable the spoken request to be performed for the user. For example, Siri on a device could provide a verbal and text-based response to a vocal query about a general topic if it detects the user's voice, but would refrain from providing a response involving user data unless the device is unlocked by other means beforehand.

There is even the possibility of a user electing for specific functions that may use personal data to be accessed by Siri while in a locked state, only if the voice of the user is recognized. This would still make the device available for general non-user-specific Siri queries by other people, without permitting access to data.

In the event the user fails to convince the device of their identity by speech alone, secondary authentication methods are offered, such as other types of biometric security or a passcode.




Apple submits a large number of patent applications every week, but not all ideas make it into commercial products. Considering Apple's existing work concerning biometric security, including Touch ID and Face ID, an extension into voice authentication makes sense, especially when looked at in the context of Siri on the iPhone.

This patent is one of a number Apple has filed in the field, and it certainly isn't the first to surface from the company. For example, a 2011 patent application for "User Profiling for Voice Input Processing" suggests virtually the same idea as the newly-granted patent.

In August, it was revealed Apple was looking into using voice prints for a slightly different purpose: differentiating between multiple users.

Aside from Siri on iPhone, another area this could be useful is with Siri for HomePod, a version of the digital assistant that can only provide verbal responses on hardware without any visual or physical biometric security. Multi-user support has been touted for the smart speaker before, with user voice recognition enabling the possibility of personalized query results or even playing an individual's private playlist.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    Siri needs major attention.  I find it nearly useless.   It sends to many inquiries to the web browser.   If I wanted to do a Google search and look at a web page, I would not bother with Siri.  Siri should be working on becoming more like the Computer on Star Trek.  When I ask the Computer a question, I want an answer or range of answers, not a screen telling me to look at a list of Google results.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,455member
    Siri needs major attention.  I find it nearly useless.  
    Mmm, that's odd. She speaks so highly of you.

    lkrupptokyojimuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,455member
    Well, if they're going to do this, then they'd better make a big deal about it being able to tell the difference between a live voice and a recording.

    Otherwise we're going to see a lot of this:

    But … but … but what if someone takes my iPhone out of my back pocket, where all the smart and hip people keep it, and then as they're running off they shout, "Hey! You!"
    When I turn around and go "Huh? Whu? Wassat?", they record my voice and now they can access my phone!


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    do we really need Siri? how useful has it been to most people? Is Siri the "flying cars" future solution to a problem that does not exist? Siri is no better than any other current web search engine because it depends on the same mechanics search engines use and when it does not understand your request get ready for so wacky results. 
    When will the superior privileged brains in Silicon Valley would stop chasing after "cool" stuff which is short of actual practical use. Look at just about any operating system to understand my point, piles of cool stuff which few people know, care about or ever use. Siri a failure and Apple may have know this but they feared being left behind in this fantasy ego race to get AI in all of our hands. Fortunately most people have hands which operate quite well but if Apple wanted to develop Siri for those with disabilities then I would applaud them. For now Siri is a useless failure. 
    edited October 16
  • Reply 5 of 18
    I find Siri extremely helpful and around 98% accuracy.  That said, there’s plenty of room for improvement and I feel Apple should be a leader in this space.  I do appreciate the amount of effort involved, as Siri is available on more languages than the other assistants.
    I use Siri a lot for my smart home functions, texting, calling, weather, timers, measurement conversion, basic references, sports queries, music control and Apple TV use.

    With the deployment of silicon containing the Neural cores (A11 chips and up), I expect Siri to gain major improvements in processing.  In the near future, I don’t see why Siri couldn’t be processed at the device level.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    NemWanNemWan Posts: 110member
    I think the last time Apple released a voiceprint login feature was with Mac OS 9, 19 years ago. It not make into Mac OS X.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    NemWan said:
    I think the last time Apple released a voiceprint login feature was with Mac OS 9, 19 years ago. It not make into Mac OS X.
    That was a neat feature. I turned it on and used it a few times but found it wasn’t reliable enough to use regularly. “My voice is my password.”
    spice-boy said:
    For now Siri is a useless failure. 
    You think Siri is a failure because it doesn’t do web searches well? I use Siri every day for multiple things that have nothing to do with web searches and am more than satisfied with the results. A sample of things I’ve used Siri for in the last 24 hours: turn lights on/off, set the thermostat, request music, math and conversions, send/read texts, ask the location of a friend, request the time in another country and more. Now that Siri can Arm/Disarm my alarm system it’s getting even better. 

    Those are are all things that happen faster than taking out my phone, finding and opening an app and doing it manually, by the way. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    spice-boy said:
    do we really need Siri? how useful has it been to most people? Is Siri the "flying cars" future solution to a problem that does not exist? Siri is no better than any other current web search engine because it depends on the same mechanics search engines use and when it does not understand your request get ready for so wacky results. 
    When will the superior privileged brains in Silicon Valley would stop chasing after "cool" stuff which is short of actual practical use. Look at just about any operating system to understand my point, piles of cool stuff which few people know, care about or ever use. Siri a failure and Apple may have know this but they feared being left behind in this fantasy ego race to get AI in all of our hands. Fortunately most people have hands which operate quite well but if Apple wanted to develop Siri for those with disabilities then I would applaud them. For now Siri is a useless failure. 
    Think how many times the value-add a relatively new feature was minor, until it evolved over time to become indispensable. You have to start somewhere and not all can leave a lab polished to perfection. Understanding and mimicking human conversation is a huge technological challenge. This is all still in its infancy. Just like cars the first ten, twenty years they were on the road. Or computers. Or print. Or the internet. You get the picture. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18

    Some store chain made a commercial based on the theme of voice patterns.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgJLpuprQp8

    At the end it says “The simplest is often the best”

  • Reply 10 of 18
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,588member
    Rayz2016 said:

    But … but … but what if someone takes my iPhone out of my back pocket, where all the smart and hip people keep it, and then as they're running off they shout, "Hey! You!"
    When I turn around and go "Huh? Whu? Wassat?", they record my voice and now they can access my phone!
    Really? The smart and hip people keep their iPhone in the back pockets? Where to all the Stupid and Uncool people keep their's? :smiley: 
    avon b7
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Siri needs major attention.  I find it nearly useless.   It sends to many inquiries to the web browser.   If I wanted to do a Google search and look at a web page, I would not bother with Siri.  Siri should be working on becoming more like the Computer on Star Trek.  When I ask the Computer a question, I want an answer or range of answers, not a screen telling me to look at a list of Google results.
    Call me crazy, but asking random questions has never been the point of Siri to me. I have no problem using the phrase “google XYZ” if I think I’m asking something too particular. I think these digital assistants only excel at systematic tasks and catalogs of common data. Not being able to answer trivia questions isn’t a fail.
    edited October 16 fastasleepbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Rayz2016 said:
    Well, if they're going to do this, then they'd better make a big deal about it being able to tell the difference between a live voice and a recording.

    Otherwise we're going to see a lot of this:

    But … but … but what if someone takes my iPhone out of my back pocket, where all the smart and hip people keep it, and then as they're running off they shout, "Hey! You!"
    When I turn around and go "Huh? Whu? Wassat?", they record my voice and now they can access my phone!


    I recall Craig F said regarding Face ID that they were looking at the possibility of using multiple biometric signals.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    spice-boy said:
    do we really need Siri? how useful has it been to most people? Is Siri the "flying cars" future solution to a problem that does not exist? Siri is no better than any other current web search engine because it depends on the same mechanics search engines use and when it does not understand your request get ready for so wacky results. 
    When will the superior privileged brains in Silicon Valley would stop chasing after "cool" stuff which is short of actual practical use. Look at just about any operating system to understand my point, piles of cool stuff which few people know, care about or ever use. Siri a failure and Apple may have know this but they feared being left behind in this fantasy ego race to get AI in all of our hands. Fortunately most people have hands which operate quite well but if Apple wanted to develop Siri for those with disabilities then I would applaud them. For now Siri is a useless failure. 
    You’re nuts. I use Siri every single day. Voice interfaces have many obvious use cases where using hands is not suitable.
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    chasmchasm Posts: 994member
    A sample of things I’ve used Siri for in the last 24 hours: turn lights on/off, set the thermostat, request music, math and conversions, send/read texts, ask the location of a friend, request the time in another country and more. Now that Siri can Arm/Disarm my alarm system it’s getting even better. 


    Those are are all things that happen faster than taking out my phone, finding and opening an app and doing it manually, by the way. 
    I'll add to that list with some of my uses: set location- or time-based reminders, create calendar events and alarms, driving directions, dictate emails, get weather reports, use Siri Shortcut phrases to do some mildly complex things, calculate distances, track workouts, find out what movies are playing tonight, and much more ... all in the last 24 hours.

    Especially with an Apple Watch, it is far, far faster to say "Remind me on November third that [act] is playing at [club] at 9pm" than to dig out the phone, launch the reminder app, and type all that in.

    I'd certainly love it if Siri were as smart as Google Assistant about opening and closing times for some businesses, but it works pretty well for a range of daily tasks that used to take more time and effort to accomplish, and Siri has really done a lot to help me get more organised (formerly a major failing of mine).
    fastasleepbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Siri needs major attention.  I find it nearly useless.   It sends to many inquiries to the web browser.   If I wanted to do a Google search and look at a web page, I would not bother with Siri.  Siri should be working on becoming more like the Computer on Star Trek.  When I ask the Computer a question, I want an answer or range of answers, not a screen telling me to look at a list of Google results.
    Call me crazy, but asking random questions has never been the point of Siri to me. I have no problem using the phrase “google XYZ” if I think I’m asking something too particular. I think these digital assistants only excel at systematic tasks and catalogs of common data. Not being able to answer trivia questions isn’t a fail.
    Exactly.  Siri is pretty damned good at doing things, such opening apps, setting reminders, making calls, starting timers, etc.  These types of things are, for me, by far the most common use cases.  Looking up information is something I mostly do using a web browser "manually", mostly because I can sit and peruse things at my leisure.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    chasm said:
    I'll add to that list with some of my uses: set location- or time-based reminders, create calendar events and alarms, driving directions, dictate emails, get weather reports, use Siri Shortcut phrases to do some mildly complex things, calculate distances, track workouts, find out what movies are playing tonight, and much more ... all in the last 24 hours.


    Especially with an Apple Watch, it is far, far faster to say "Remind me on November third that [act] is playing at [club] at 9pm" than to dig out the phone, launch the reminder app, and type all that in.

    I'd certainly love it if Siri were as smart as Google Assistant about opening and closing times for some businesses, but it works pretty well for a range of daily tasks that used to take more time and effort to accomplish, and Siri has really done a lot to help me get more organised (formerly a major failing of mine).   
    All great examples. I haven't found a ton of uses of Shortcuts that matter to me but the few I use I add to Siri and they work great.

    Regarding what I bolded in your comment, I've mentioned this before, I think this is a problem with Maps and not Siri (obviously it doesn't make Siri look good, at any rate). People were recently complaining about Siri returning a list of locations when they asked for a specific location AND getting the same results when typed into Maps.  I think what we're seeing there and when asking for opening/closing times is Siri querying Maps for that info and returning what Maps provides. So, yes, Siri isn't giving the best results but that's only because Maps isn't providing the best results.  If Maps' results improve then so will Siri's responses. To me, this is similar to blaming your television for showing you the wrong channel when it's really the cable box that has the problem.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm don't think Siri is flawless and I welcome any improvements. I'd like it if Apple brought Siri's functionality a little closer across devices.  I get it that TV Siri doesn't need to provide navigation, but it would be nice to occasionally set a timer on it. Apple added multiple timers to HomePod (a feature I won't use particularly often myself but at least it helps to quiet some of the people who would use it) but I still can't set multiple timers on my iPhone, it's just odd. There are a bunch of little things like that that seem relatively easy to fix/adjust, even if it was simply to give less reason for people to complain.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,776member
    Siri ... "I love that Welsh lilt'
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    Pizza5972Pizza5972 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Can somebody please tell me what case is on that iPhone in the cover pic? Thanks!
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