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Apple looking into an ‘intelligent automated assistant in a home environment’

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20180276197) for an “intelligent automated assistant in a home environment.” It involves further integration of Siri with the Home app.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Systems and processes for operating an intelligent automated assistant are provided. In one example process, discourse input representing a user request is received. The process determines whether the discourse input relates to a device of an established location. In response to determining that the discourse input relates to a device of an established location, a data structure representing a set of devices of the established location is retrieved. 

“The process determines, using the data structure, a user intent corresponding to the discourse input, the user intent associated with an action to be performed by a device of the set of devices, and a criterion to be satisfied prior to performing the action. The action and the device are stored in association with the criterion, where, in accordance with a determination that the criterion is satisfied, the action is performed by the device.”

Devices (e.g., electronic device) of an established location (e.g., home, office, business, public institution) can be controlled remotely using software applications running on a computing device, such as a mobile phone, tablet computer, laptop computer, desktop computer, or the like. For example, numerous manufacturers create light bulbs that can be controlled by a software application running on a mobile phone to adjust the brightness and/or color of the bulb. Other devices, such as door locks, thermostats, and the like, having similar controls are also available. 

In the patent filing, Apple nots that while these devices can provide users with a greater level of control and convenience, it can br difficult to manage these devices as the number of remotely controlled devices and the number of types of remotely controlled devices in the home increase. For example, a typical home can include 40-50 light bulbs placed throughout the various rooms of the home. 

Using conventional software applications, each light bulb is given a unique identifier. A user attempting to control one of these devices must select the appropriate identifier from a list of available devices within a graphical user interface. Remembering the correct identifier for a particular light bulb and finding that identifier from a list of 40-50 identifiers can be a difficult and time-consuming process. 

As a result, a user must locate and open one software application to turn on/off their light bulbs, and must then locate and open another software application to set the temperature of their thermostat. Apple thinks there’s a better way to handle such tasks.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.