Say what? Apple has filed four patents that are all about technology for reducing background noise to improve voice detection and parsing on Apple devices. Such an investment makes a lot of sense, especially with the recent release of Siri. The four patents include:
- User-specific noise suppression for voice quality improvements
- Active noise cancellation decisions in a portable audio device
- User interface tone echo cancellation
- System and method for removing TDMA audio noise
Apple’s not the only company going voice-command crazy. Microsoft’s Kinect features voice control prominently on the Xbox 360. The iPhone 4S and the Kinect-enabled 360 make two juggernaut consumer electronic products in millions of homes that have moved voice control from a niche feature to the forefront. Just like the proliferation of touchscreens completely changed the mobile phone market, incredibly accurate voice control with better natural language parsing might just change the way we interact with our computers going forward.
As always, it is important to note that patents don’t necessarily mean anything. It’s prudent for companies like Apple to apply for patents any time they develop something they deem unique. A patented technology might come in useful at some point later on, or it might never be used at all. That being said, Siri’s success means that more audio-related development is in the pipe over in Cupertino.