Apple recently developed a new software feature that may ultimately make Siri less annoying. Originally spotted by Gizmodo, a new Apple patent details a feature that would enable Siri to discern when a user is whispering to it and, in turn, offer up a response in a silent whisper. Naturally, the feature is designed to make Siri usage in public or in large group settings far less conspicuous and embarrassing.
Though it’s easy to mock anything Siri-related, this type of feature isn’t all that outlandish. As Apple outlines in a patent filing that spans more than 50 pages, the ability for Siri to tell when a user is whispering and respond in kind can be useful in a variety of situations, such as “studying in a library where speaking loudly may be prohibited” or “while working at a cubicle with other co-workers surrounding the user.”
Asked if this sort of technology could possibly be released any time soon, Alex Rudnicky, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, told Gizmodo that it “could come out any time because the component technologies are pretty straightforward,” Rudnicky said. “The ways that they’re doing this is kind of textbook speech processing,” but “working up an algorithm to decide when to go into whisper mode” would be more complicated. “I can’t really say why nobody’s come up with this solution. But once you hear it, it sounds really reasonable. Why not?”
Now I wouldn’t venture to say that this type of feature will drastically increase Siri usage, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. Over the past few years, Siri’s ability to understand and process more complex and layered queries has improved by leaps and bounds. Perhaps the ability to ascertain the proper tone with which to relay back a response is simply the next logical step.