December 5, 2013
Current Apple branded docking stations for the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad have limited functionality. Most can only charge a device and/or offer some sort of audio capability. A new patent filing suggests Cupertino is working on a line of “smart docks.” These devices could include a speaker, microphone, built-in screen, and integration with Siri, Apple’s voice recognition software. The smart dock patent application describes a device “for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable electronic device.” This feature would become active when a mobile device is attached to it, and a user leaves an audio prompt. This could be through a spoken word or hand clap. In the application summary, Apple notes:
A dock for a portable electronic device including a housing, a connector extending from the housing to connect the portable electronic device to the dock, a microphone integrated within the housing, and a processor. The processor is operatively coupled to receive audio input from the microphone, and in response to the audio input, transmit a message to the portable electronic device via the connector to activate a voice recognition mode of the portable electronic device.There has been no word from Apple on when a smart dock may launch, if at all. So far, Apple has limited Siri's use to iOS devices and through Siri Eyes Free, to certain car models. Apple has been rumored to be working on bringing Siri to Apple TV and Mac. This is the first time any sort of smart dock integration has been reported. Cupertino's smart dock patent application was submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May 2012. It credits Scott Krueger, Jesse Dorogusker, and Erik Wang as its inventors. See also: Apple Awarded A Patent For Facial Recognition And Detection Technology, Apple's New Patent Could Bring A Stereoscopic Camera Mode To iOS Devices, and Apple Looks To Have Big Plans In Store For The Touch ID Sensor.