Scrolling through recent patents from the Cupertino giant, I came across an interesting one; a patent describing a secondary wearable device that connects to your primary device to process voice commands and access a wide range of services. What makes it interesting is the mention of it being a wrist watch.
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The patent, US patent 8,296,383 titled “Electronic devices with voice command and contextual data processing capabilities,” goes into explicit detail about a wearable accessory that is more of a companion device to your primary device. It has lower processing capabilities and connects to a device with better processing capabilities to access a wide range of services. The device is mentioned as having wireless communication technology, mentioning both WiFi and Bluetooth, and goes into much detail about its voice command features like:
When the electronic device receives a voice command, the electronic device may store information about the current state of the electronic device and its operating environment as contextual information (metadata)…
After a recorded voice command and associated contextual information have been transferred to a desktop computer, remote server, or other computing equipment, the computing equipment may process the voice command using a speech recognition operation. The computing equipment may use the results of the speech recognition operation and any relevant contextual information together to respond to the voice command properly. For example, the computing equipment may respond to the voice command by displaying search results or performing other suitable actions). If desired, the computing equipment may convey information back to the electronic device in response to the voice command.
Then there’s the mention of the device that it connects to being more capable to process commands and having access to a user’s home library through online resources such as an online server database, suggesting iCloud access:
The computer to which the voice command audio clip is uploaded may have greater processing power available than that available on a handheld electronic device, so voice processing accuracy may be improved by offloading voice recognition operations to the computer from the handheld electronic device in this way. The computer to which the audio clip is uploaded may also have access to more extensive data that would be available on a handheld electronic device such as the contents of a user’s full home media library. The computer that receives the uploaded command may also have access to online resources such as an online server database. This database may have been difficult or impossible for the user to access from the handheld device when the voice command was captured.
The image used above is also quite detailed regarding the capabilities of such a device:
Communications path 20 may be used for one-way or two-way transmissions between user device 12 and computing equipment 14. For example, user device 12 may transmit voice commands and contextual information to computing equipment 14. After receiving voice commands and contextual information from user device 12, computing equipment 14 may process the voice commands and contextual information using a speech recognition engine such as speech recognition engine 15. Engine 15 may be provided as a standalone software component or may be integrated into a media playback application or other application. If desired, computing equipment 14 may transmit data signals to user device 12. Equipment 14 may, for example, transmit information to device 12 in response to voice commands transmitted by device 12 to system 14. For example, when a voice command transmitted by device 12 includes a request to search for information, system 14 may transmit search results back to device 12.
Communications network 16 may be based on any suitable communications network or networks such as a radio-frequency network, the Internet, an Ethernet network, a wireless network, a Wi-Fi® network, a Bluetooth® network, a cellular telephone network, or a combination of such networks.
Services 18 may include any suitable online services. Services 18 may include a speech recognition service (e.g., a speech recognition dictionary), a search service (e.g., a service that searches a particular database or that performs Internet searches), an email service, a media service, a software update service, an online business service, etc. Services 18 may communicate with computing equipment 14 and user device 12 through communications network 16.
The patent cites a lot of interesting things such as Waze, which is an app similar to Siri, but allows hands-free control, Vlingo’s InCar that also details hands-free usage, Text’nDrive is also mentioned and it allows you to read and write texts through voice recognition whilst driving, there is Engadet’s piece about Siri replacing your TV remote, Evi which is Siri on steroids as well as Alfred, the award-winning productivity app for Macs. Most citations indicate that Siri will be used without having to press any buttons, like the current raise-to-speak feature.
It seems as though Apple has been working on an ‘iWatch’ for quite some time now as there are several citations and references that date back over a decade, the Apple iWatch may just be the revival of an old project that never happened.