iPhone, iPad & AirPods Users To Get Important New Security Feature, Patent Reveals | #ios | #apple | #iossecurity


A new patent suggests that Apple is working to improve privacy when you’re using Siri. The voice assistant can already recognize multiple users on HomePod, but the new patent goes further.

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The purpose of the patent is to develop voice recognition to the extent that it will only fulfil a command if it is sure it’s the device’s owner.

The patent, spotted by Patently Apple, is rather like a game of Simon Says, where, of course, you mustn’t do what you’re told to unless it’s prefaced by the magic two words, Simon says.

Rather wittily, considering this is a patent and they’re usually as dry as dust, is illustrated with somebody saying Hey Simon, though we can be assured that in the final iteration Apple will use Siri instead.

The patent is called “Automatic speech recognition imposter rejection on a headphone with an accelerometer”.

That sounds like it’s only for AirPods but the patent goes on to specify that “the headphone may also be any electronic device that is capable of performing networking operations… as illustrated the multimedia device… is a smart phone.” It could also be “a tablet computer, a laptop, a desktop computer, a smart speaker, etc.” In other words, Apple is covering all bases here, as is common in patents.

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The technology uses what it calls a Voice Activity Detection (VAD) signal which is based on the device’s accelerometer signal. This is an ingenious way of doing things, for sure, and includes measuring whether the accelerometer signal is above a certain energy threshold. This and other things generate what the patent calls a VAD score. This affects what happens to the Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA), in this case Siri.

“In response to the VAD score being above the VAD score threshold, a trigger signal to trigger (activate) the VPA is generated. In response, however, to the VAD score being below the VAD score threshold, it may be determined that an imposter, or someone other than the wearer, is saying the key-phrase, and therefore the VPA may not be triggered.”

In other words, if the iPhone thinks it’s not you, it’s like you didn’t say Simon Says and you’ll be ignored. This is handy if, say, a waggish friend picks up your phone and says, “Hey, Siri, set an alarm for 4.30a.m. tomorrow morning”. If it knows it’s not you, it won’t wake you up, with this technology in place.

So, when can we expect to see this helpful privacy update. Well, as it’s a patent, it may never come, but as it was originally filed in 2019, though only published this week, it could arrive as soon as this year, in time for the iPhone 13.

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