Apple's 'smart dock' would give Siri a permanent place in the home

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application detailing a full-function "smart dock" that continually listens for cues to activate and communicate with the voice recognition functions of docked devices, like the iPhone and iPad.

Dock
Source: USPTO


Apple's "Smart dock for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable electronic device" filing clearly describes an iOS device accessory unlike anything the company has manufactured. Like third-party peripherals, Apple's proposed dock can include a speaker, microphone and built-in screen, but goes further by allowing access to the Siri virtual assistant.

Currently, Apple's only docking solutions for both the iPhone and iPad are limited to charging and line-out audio. In contrast, the proposed dock would have a screen, tactile controls or a touch panel with which a user can interface. Other embodiments include a scroll wheel, buttons and other manual controls.

Instead of carrying Siri onboard, the dock would be mostly headless until an iPhone or iPad was operatively coupled to the unit. Basic functionality like a clock and radio are provided, but voice recognition and heavy processing are accomplished by the iOS device.

Basically, the dock listens for a specific prompt, recognizes an activation request by the user, relays commands to the docked iPhone and executes any operations returned by the device. Examples could be playing a song or facilitating communication between the user and Siri.

Dock


In operation, a user would perform an initial setup that would include assigning an audio prompt, such as a spoken word or hand clap, that will be used to activate the unit and its services. For example, a user may want to set the prompt as a finger snap. When in listening mode, if the dock "hears" a finger snap, it will activate the iPhone's voice recognition feature.

By setting listening thresholds, the dock can selectively filter out ambient noise while still allowing a user to operate their device remotely using only audio cues. Since the system relies primarily on audio input, an effective limiter must be implemented to ignore responses by Siri. In these scenarios, the dock would deactivate listening mode during voice recognition operations.

Internal components include a wireless communications module for accessing off-site databases and Internet assets like webpages or cloud storage. If, for example, a user wanted to change their schedule for the day, they could initiate Siri via the always-listening dock and modify a calendar stored in iCloud.

Dock


In addition to the built-in hardware, the dock can also be fitted with add-ons like a removable hard drive, environmental sensors, a GPS module and more. Some embodiments allow for the dock and iOS device to be paired but uncoupled, meaning the dock would transform into a sort of smart wireless speaker system.

Finally, users can force the dock to deactivate Siri by issuing a verbal command or other audio input. Alternatively, the dock itself can time out Siri voice recognition and put the iOS device to sleep after a predetermined time period. There is also a provision for wireless inductive charging.

Apple's smart dock patent application was first filed for in May 2012 and credits Scott Krueger, Jesse Dorogusker and Erik Wang as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    irelandireland Posts: 17,568member
    Google Now initiates on some Android phones by saying 'Google' without the requirement of a dock (horrid activation word, I know). 'Apple' would be horrid, too, but 'Siri' would sound appropriate. If Google can listen for the keyword without killing battery, why can't the iPhone?
  • Reply 2 of 46
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    Google's system works on some Android phone by saying 'Google' to initiate the listening state (horrid activation word, I know). 'Apple' would be horrid, too, but 'Siri' would sound appropriate.

     

     

    Appropriate to whom?

     

    Both want to sell you things, right?

    So Google wins.

    Google = Google

    Siri = A long way, for the majority to single out Apple.

  • Reply 3 of 46
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    Google Now initiates on some Android phones by saying 'Google' without the requirement of a dock (horrid activation word, I know). 'Apple' would be horrid, too, but 'Siri' would sound appropriate. If Google can listen for the keyword without killing battery, why can't the iPhone?

    Don't see why we can't set our own keyword.  If I want to shout "hey buttwad" to activate Siri, that's my choice.

     

    I think the MotoX, which does the "listening in" most effectively has a dedicated chip, a bit like the M7 is for exercise; so the main processor isn't active which saves power.  Maybe something similar for the iPhone 6?

  • Reply 4 of 46
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    Ok, Glass with champagne is what I raise with this patent. Though I don't understand why I would need to dock my iPhone. Apple is all about wireless, I thought. Maybe they want us to dock a 12.9" device.
  • Reply 5 of 46
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,163member
    philboogie wrote: »
    Ok, Glass with champagne is what I raise with this patent. Though I don't understand why I would need to dock my iPhone. Apple is all about wireless, I thought. Maybe they want us to dock a 12.9" device.

    On a tangential thought here ... How far off can Siri for OS X be I wonder?
  • Reply 6 of 46
    g-newsg-news Posts: 1,107member

    After big brother was watching you, little sister is now also listening.

    That is definitely the last thing I'd want in my home.

  • Reply 7 of 46
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    philboogie wrote: »
    Ok, Glass with champagne is what I raise with this patent. Though I don't understand why I would need to dock my iPhone. Apple is all about wireless, I thought. Maybe they want us to dock a 12.9" device.

    On a tangential thought here ... How far off can Siri for OS X be I wonder?

    With iOS users outnumbering OSX with a 10 to 1, I'd say it'd only requires a dot release update to OSX, possibly even add it to 10.8 as well. Dictation also came to the Mac after all. Good call.
  • Reply 8 of 46
    irelandireland Posts: 17,568member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ochyming View Post

    Appropriate to whom?

     

    Both want to sell you things, right?

    So Google wins.

    Google = Google

    Siri = A long way, for the majority to single out Apple.


     

    Never design my products.

  • Reply 9 of 46
    irelandireland Posts: 17,568member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

     

    Don't see why we can't set our own keyword.  If I want to shout "hey buttwad" to activate Siri, that's my choice.


     

    That's a different point; I don't disagree with that.

  • Reply 10 of 46
    rcfarcfa Posts: 761member
    g-news wrote: »
    After big brother was watching you, little sister is now also listening.
    That is definitely the last thing I'd want in my home.

    I love security cameras, I love voice recognition.

    I HATE security cameras that don't have a built-in web server and instead require you to stream your life to a 3rd party service where you can access your own video feed through a web page, and I HATE voice recognition that's cloud based.

    Until such point when Apple allows users to own their iOS devices (read gives them root access so you can inspect processes and network connections to see what's going on), and until Siri is locally processed, if you have any of these security cameras and/or permanent Siri active, you might as well get your house permanently wire tapped and video recorded by "the government of the free world".

    Amazing: back in 1984 everyone was going ape-shit about Orwells book with the same year as title, but when the reality of what Orwell was talking about gets implemented, people are already so brainwashed that they'd piss away any form of liberty, freedom, self-control, privacy just for the convenience of having it easier to order a pizza online without lifting their fat asses off the couch while watching sports.

    Is anyone still awake?

    What Apple describes is great technology, if it runs on your own private server or device, locally, and such fact can be verified. It's not ok if it's a cloudy cloud service with nebulous control protocols and known data vacuum cleaners in the middle.
  • Reply 11 of 46

    Interesting, although I'd rather see it as a standalone device with Siri built-in. Would be extremely handy in a home automation situation ... control lights, temp, TV/music/etc. PhilBoogie might be onto something with the 12.9" device docking, though...

  • Reply 12 of 46
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,520member

    I am sorry, geeks just do not get it. Yeah it would be cool to voice command everything in your house and in life. For those of you who are married and have kids how well does that work ordering them around. It does not, there is a whole social aspect to these kind of technologies which most geeks fail to understand, you look like an idiot talking to your equipment and I am not the equipment in your pants, that another issue all together.

     

    This is no different than people who still walk around with a Bluetooth ear piece, you look like an idiot and even worse if you are walking around talking on it in a crowd of people. Sitting in your house with other people around and saying words like "Google" or "Siri" do this or that you being looking like a fool and it lacks all kind of social grace of what you do and not do in a room full of people. Then add in when people realize you have no clue, they start messing with you by telling your equipment to do things since these things will listen to anyone's voice not just yours.

     

    If you live alone and never interact with the outside world or people in general talking to your equipment is probably fine. But at some point people begin to realize others are looking at them funny and stop the ridiculous behavior. Google glass go up there with it net technologies but fails on social level.

  • Reply 13 of 46
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    i seem to remember os 9 have a feature whereby it would listen for a configurable command word (e.g., "computer") and then perform functions based on what followed.

    "computer ... open email"

    "computer ... tell me a joke"

    it surprises me that it's taken this long for things to come full circle (although i have no doubt that this will be a lot more powerful and flexible, etc.)
  • Reply 14 of 46
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

     

    I am sorry, geeks just do not get it. Yeah it would be cool to voice command everything in your house and in life. 


     

    I partially feel this way, but let me tell you... after a weeklong road trip this summer, using Siri in the car... it was awkward at first, but by the third day, I had no trouble talking to Siri and asking for directions, sending text messages, looking up the nearest gas station. It didn't take long to make it feel completely natural. These shifts can happen so quickly. 

  • Reply 15 of 46
    blah64blah64 Posts: 915member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rcfa View Post

    I love security cameras, I love voice recognition.

    I HATE security cameras that don't have a built-in web server and instead require you to stream your life to a 3rd party service where you can access your own video feed through a web page, and I HATE voice recognition that's cloud based.

    Until such point when Apple allows users to own their iOS devices (read gives them root access so you can inspect processes and network connections to see what's going on), and until Siri is locally processed, if you have any of these security cameras and/or permanent Siri active, you might as well get your house permanently wire tapped and video recorded by "the government of the free world".

    Amazing: back in 1984 everyone was going ape-shit about Orwells book with the same year as title, but when the reality of what Orwell was talking about gets implemented, people are already so brainwashed that they'd piss away any form of liberty, freedom, self-control, privacy just for the convenience of having it easier to order a pizza online without lifting their fat asses off the couch while watching sports.

    Is anyone still awake?

    What Apple describes is great technology, if it runs on your own private server or device, locally, and such fact can be verified. It's not ok if it's a cloudy cloud service with nebulous control protocols and known data vacuum cleaners in the middle.


    Hear hear!

    If I could vote your post up x10 I'd do it.
  • Reply 16 of 46

    It may not be long before all we need is an iPhone, a microphone (with on/off button) and an earphone to control our home automation, car, computing devices and our personal Apple Robot.

  • Reply 17 of 46
    blah64blah64 Posts: 915member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

    I am sorry, geeks just do not get it. Yeah it would be cool to voice command everything in your house and in life. For those of you who are married and have kids how well does that work ordering them around. It does not, there is a whole social aspect to these kind of technologies which most geeks fail to understand, you look like an idiot talking to your equipment and I am not the equipment in your pants, that another issue all together.

    This is no different than people who still walk around with a Bluetooth ear piece, you look like an idiot and even worse if you are walking around talking on it in a crowd of people. Sitting in your house with other people around and saying words like "Google" or "Siri" do this or that you being looking like a fool and it lacks all kind of social grace of what you do and not do in a room full of people. Then add in when people realize you have no clue, they start messing with you by telling your equipment to do things since these things will listen to anyone's voice not just yours.

    If you live alone and never interact with the outside world or people in general talking to your equipment is probably fine. But at some point people begin to realize others are looking at them funny and stop the ridiculous behavior. Google glass go up there with it net technologies but fails on social level.



    I agree with you for now, and I don't want to see things change, but jakeb has a point.

    How many people here remember when cell phones were first coming into popularity? It was a HUGE faux pas in many circles to be seen or heard using them. I got scowls and less-than-nice comments from random people in public, and even verbal reprimands from relatives. Not because I was being loud or obnoxious, but because it was considered pretentious and just plain "not cool" to be using that kind of device. My how things change!

    I do agree that the usage will be very different if you're alone vs. with family or friends, but I wouldn't count out the possibility that people will end up talking to their homes. My biggest hope is that, like rcfa, those conversations don't leave the house out to the cloud and back. Personally, I won't use anything that does, ever.
  • Reply 18 of 46
    Three things piqued my interest:
    1. A rather innocuous, dumb, passive device like a dock can use an intelligent device (iPhone, iPad, iMac, AppleTV, Camera, etc.) as a peripheral.
    2. The dock device doesn't necessarily need to be large or plugged into a power source.
    3. The dock device doesn't necessarily need to be physically connected to the peripheral.


    Below, is Apple's drawing of the dock -- large and ugly, IMO.

    Below that, is a picture of a StickNFind BLE beacon that can be used as an iBeacon. It is about the size of a quarter, cost $25 each (in quantities of 2) and includes a battery that lasts 2 years. These particular beacons have a built-in Alarm and LED Flasher as well as 2 counters.

    https://www.sticknfind.com/default.aspx


    I can't find hardware specs on the StickNFind... but based on similar devices I would guess it contains, an ARM CPU, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip and antenna, reloadable Firmware, RAM... Actually, it's a little computer.

    In addition, the Bluetooth SIG has just redefined/expanded the BLE spec in ways that give it more speed, reliability and control.

    Taken together, I can envision several specialized beacons that could act as sensors/intermediaries to cause, say, your iPad to be connected to your sound system... or as others have said, snap your fingers and a specialized beacon listens for an audible command that is sent to Siri via your iPhone to do whatever...


    Or, that little dumb iWatch on your wrist can use an iDevice on your person or an iMac in your house/office as a peripheral at your command...


    Curiouser and curiouser...


    Edit:

    My subconscious chewed on this idea of BLE beacons acting as intermediaries between you and your electronics... They shouldn't be called "beacons"... and "intermediaries" doesn't really describe what they do...

    Rather, they are your "minions"... Your BLE Minions!

    Ha! Say, Bill is on the phone and he wants to "get together" with you and a few others... You just tell Bill: "Have your people [minions] get in touch with my people [minions]...

    I wonder if there is a protocol or "power status" on whose minion initiates the contact 8-)


    <img src="http://photos.appleinsidercdn.com/13.12.05-Dock-1.jpg"><br><span class="minor2 small gray">


    1000

    philboogie wrote: »
    Ok, Glass with champagne is what I raise with this patent. Though I don't understand why I would need to dock my iPhone. Apple is all about wireless, I thought. Maybe they want us to dock a 12.9" device.
  • Reply 19 of 46
    philboogie wrote: »
    philboogie wrote: »
    Ok, Glass with champagne is what I raise with this patent. Though I don't understand why I would need to dock my iPhone. Apple is all about wireless, I thought. Maybe they want us to dock a 12.9" device.

    On a tangential thought here ... How far off can Siri for OS X be I wonder?

    With iOS users outnumbering OSX with a 10 to 1, I'd say it'd only requires a dot release update to OSX, possibly even add it to 10.8 as well. Dictation also came to the Mac after all. Good call.

    I suspect that:
    • Apple already has OSX Mavericks running on iPads.
    • Apple already has iOS 7 running on Macs (both ARM and Intel).
    • everything implemented for either OS is implemented for the other.

    An example of iOS running on Macs is the iOS Simulator.
  • Reply 20 of 46
    maestro64 wrote: »
    I am sorry, geeks just do not get it. Yeah it would be cool to voice command everything in your house and in life. For those of you who are married and have kids how well does that work ordering them around. It does not, there is a whole social aspect to these kind of technologies which most geeks fail to understand, you look like an idiot talking to your equipment and I am not the equipment in your pants, that another issue all together.

    This is no different than people who still walk around with a Bluetooth ear piece, you look like an idiot and even worse if you are walking around talking on it in a crowd of people. Sitting in your house with other people around and saying words like "Google" or "Siri" do this or that you being looking like a fool and it lacks all kind of social grace of what you do and not do in a room full of people. Then add in when people realize you have no clue, they start messing with you by telling your equipment to do things since these things will listen to anyone's voice not just yours.

    If you live alone and never interact with the outside world or people in general talking to your equipment is probably fine. But at some point people begin to realize others are looking at them funny and stop the ridiculous behavior. Google glass go up there with it net technologies but fails on social level.

    I use Siri, successfully, all the time while sitting in my chair, the TV blaring, the grandkids fuss in'...

    It is amazing how well the noise-cancelling mics/software work on the later iDevices.
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