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Google races to patent Siri-like TV voice commands

updated 01:40 pm EST, Mon February 20, 2012

Google TV may get natural voice and proximity tech

Google is now known to have applied for a patent that could give Google TV natural language voice commands of its own. The method would use a smartphone or tablet as a voice remote, optionally using a technique similar to Google Translate or Apple's Siri where the commands are uploaded to a server and then deciphered. It could be used for searching both TV and local content, and could send information to more than one computer or device on the network.

The feature could go directly to a TV or set-top box with Internet access. By having a mobile app do much of the querying, it could also fill in the feature for devices that can connect on the local network but which don't have voice search. Google makes a point of using a natural sentence such as "when is Seinfeld on?" rather than the arbitrary queries of something such as Android's Voice Actions.

An additional part of the patent would even use proximity to trigger a TV or similar device: similar to geofencing for Latitude's automatic check-ins in Android or across iOS 5, it could turn the TV on as a phone or tablet owner nears home and would flip to a preset channel or music playlist.

The patent has seen an uncharacteristically quick application process and has gone from an initial filing on September 29 to a published, though not granted, listing just late last week. While it's unlikely Google was directly aware, its application came just days before Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S and helped take voice commands mainstream. Multiple rumors have suggested that Apple was working on a Siri-powered TV set that would go one step further than Google's proposal and let TV owners talk directly instead of through a proxy device.

As with most such patents, there's no guarantee that the inventions will translate to real products or that they should work exactly as described. However, they show that Google may have been thinking about a voice-guided TV platform in rough parallel to Apple and could be in an unintentional race to get its solution to market first. [via Patently Apple]

By Electronista Staff


  1. sessamoid

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001


    I'd be surprised

    if Apple doesn't already have multiple patents pending on voice-interfaced television.

  1. Geoduck

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Very clever

    For the record I don't think Apple is going to put out an AppleTV. If they do it won't be a success IMO. I mean really talking to the TV? In a noisy room. Apple can't bring enough innovation into this already mature market to make it worth their time.

    However by letting all these leaks and speculation run wild they can get Google and others to waste millions on developing something that they have no intention of doing and won't be a success.

    Very Clever.

  1. facebook_Mark

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2012


    Copy Cats

    Can't anyone but Apple come up with an original idea now days? It seems like everyone watches what Apple does or is rumored to do and rushes out to mimic it as soon as they possibly can.

  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2008



    I believe Apple is pointing strongly in the television direction to get others to rush that direction. Apple rarely telegraphs its real moves.

  1. global.philosopher

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2010


    Apple would already have patents submitted

    Considering how Apple tend to keep things quiet I would completely surprised if Apple has not already applied for patents that already do something of this nature. In fact I would suspect that Apple have already applied for patents for things Google has even thought of...errrrr copy.

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