Apple Patent Reveals Voice Recognition Technology Could be Coming to the iPhone

Voice recognition, a feature that many users have been waiting for; could be coming to the iPhone sometime in the near future based on the patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

As per the patent, Apple could be considering adding voice controls as a standard option in the iPhone, but also notes that it could be applied to other devices such as iPod and Apple TV as well.

As per the patent, one of key components is a hardware component called "voice-to-command analyzer" which would determine whether the audio is meaningless or represents an action request. This would save other processors the burden of deciphering speech.

After the voice-to-command analyzer determines that the audio represents an action request it triggers a macro manager, executing actions from a predetermined library.

The patent also provides examples of the voice controls. Examples of voice control for the iPod application are mentioned below:

"The user might provide an audio input, namely, a voice command, by announcing the phrase “play irreplaceable”. Here, the electronic device would recognize that the first portion “play” is a command that is supported and the second term “irreplaceable” is the name of a song available to be played at the electronic device. As another example, the user could provide an audio input, namely, a voice command, by announcing the phrase “play 06?, which could be the user requesting to play a playlist denoted as “summer ‘06? and available at the media device."

Example of the voice controls for Calendar application are mentioned below:

"The command “tell” which can respond to the meeting attendees with a message. For example, “tell everyone I will be 10 minutes late” which will be understood by the electronic device as a request to send a text message or email to all attendees of the meeting that the user will be ten (10) minutes late to the meeting."

Example of the voice controls for Camera application are mentioned below:

"In the camera mode, likely camera operations include taking pictures, deleting pictures, saving pictures, etc."

Based on the examples mentioned above it is also safe to assume that Apple will also bring voice dialing in addition to the voice controls mentioned above to the iPhone which is one of the missing features.

Apple’s patent is a block diagram of an iPhone which is presented as device 200.

The hardware component "voice-to-command analyzer" rules out the chances of seeing this voice recognition technology in the current generation iPhones.

So far we have already seen voice recognition iPhone apps such as Where; or Voice dialer apps such as Cactus Voice Dialer, VoiceDial and Vocalia. There are also rumors that Microsoft is developing a voice recognition iPhone app via its subsidiary Tellme.

It is important to note here that Apple like so many other companies, patents ideas and so these features might never see the light of day. However, I won’t be surprised to see voice recognition technology in future generations of the iPhone.

What’s your take on this patent?

[via MacNN]

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