Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11886805 B2) for “Unconventional Virtual Assistant Interactions” involving Siri.
About the patent
The patent elates generally to a virtual assistant, and more specifically to techniques for interacting with a virtual assistant. In the patent, Apple notes that Intelligent automated assistants (or digital assistants) such as Siri provide a beneficial interface between human users and electronic devices. S
uch assistants allow users to interact with devices or systems using natural language in spoken and/or text forms. For example, a user can access the services of an electronic device by providing a spoken user request to a digital assistant associated with the electronic device.
The digital assistant can interpret the user’s intent from the spoken user request and operationalize the user’s intent into tasks. The tasks can then be performed by executing one or more services of the electronic device and a relevant output can be returned to the user in natural language form or displayed on a device screen.
Apple says that a digital assistant can be helpful in remembering calendar events or other reminders that have been set specifically by a user. It also can be helpful in generating a recommendation based on a user request and on third-party reviews that are publicly available. However, Apple says that digital assistants generally haven’t been useful in handling unconventional interactions, such as interactions with users other than a primary user, interactions with other virtual assistants, complex interactions, and interactions with physical entities.
What’s more, the company says that digital assistants generally haven’t been useful in performing tasks that are spread out in time, or that include contingent steps or encounter exceptions. Apple wants to change this with future versions of Siri.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s (rather technical) abstract of the patent: “An exemplary method of using a virtual assistant may include receiving an unstructured natural-language user request for a service from a virtual assistant; determining whether the user request corresponds to at least one of a plurality of plan templates accessible to the virtual assistant, based on the content of the user request and the content of the plan templates; in accordance with a determination that the user request corresponds to at least one of the plurality of plan templates, selecting one of the plurality of plan templates; and in accordance with a determination the user request fails to correspond to at least one of the plurality of plan templates, foregoing selection of a plan template; and in response to selection of one of the plan templates, beginning to respond to the user request according to the selected plan template.”