You don’t have to be asking Siri about a delicate medical matter or a personal hygiene issue to know that it can feel a little awkward barking questions into your iPhone or Apple Watch when you’re out in public.
Or how about if you’re in a library, movie theater, or work meeting and you want to discreetly request information or set a reminder without having to fumble about with the on-screen keyboard?
In situations like this, you’re probably more cautious about engaging with Apple’s digital assistant, but would you be more likely to fire it up if Siri could whisper back its response?
Apple researchers are exploring the idea of giving Siri the ability to understand when the speaker is whispering an inquiry so that it can then offer a whispered response, a patent spotted by Gizmodo reveals.
Filed in 2016 and published this week, Apple’s patent notes how current digital assistants fail to respond to different kinds of speech, such as a whisper.
“They may respond in a regular or loud voice, which may be undesired under certain circumstances where a whispered response is more appropriate,” the patent says. “Providing a digital assistant that is capable of detecting a whispered speech input and providing a whispered speech response is thus important.”
To be clear, Apple is talking about whispered speech rather than just making Siri’s current voice quieter. If nothing else, such functionality could pave the way for some really rather intimate conversations between you and your iPhone, with seductive sweet nothings exchanged last thing before lights out. But we could be getting ahead of ourselves here. After all, there’s no certainty that the patent will ever make it off the drawing board.
But Apple’s idea is certainly an interesting one, and could help to increase the use of its steadily improving virtual assistant.
Siri is an important part of Apple’s future and the Cupertino, California-based company has been investing heavily in its development. The voice-activated assistant is set to play an increasingly important role in Apple’s smart home platform, which will take another step forward with the launch in 2018 of its HomePod. Apple’s Siri-enabled speaker will go up against the Amazon Echo and Google Home, powered by Alexa and Google Assistant, respectively. Samsung, too, is believed to be readying a speaker for launch next year that would be powered by its own digital assistant, Bixby.
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