Patent published on September 28, 2023

Apple's New Patent: Siri Could Understand Social Engagement

Presently, we live in a world where digital assistants like Siri seem to be giving us updates and alerts at all times, which can sometimes become inconvenient. Especially when you're in the middle of a conversation with another person, it can be quite troublesome if Siri starts reading out a text message or sends a notification.

The root cause of this issue is that these digital assistants can't determine when you're engaged in a conversation with another person. If you're busy talking or you're just in company, these digital assistants don't have the capacity to pause themselves and resume their services once the user is no longer engaged socially. Toggling these digital assistants on and off not only wastes valuable time but also battery power.

However, a recently released patent US20230306968A1 by Apple aims to resolve this problem. The patent, titled "DIGITAL ASSISTANT FOR PROVIDING REAL-TIME SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE," outlines a new feature where the virtual assistant can detect when you're socially engaged and then hold back on its updates, notifications, and functions, so it doesn't disturb you during your conversation.

This enhancement should, ideally, reduce unnecessary interruptions while you're socially engaged and hence, can potentially enhance productivity and promote smoother social interactions. Imagine not being disrupted by Siri while you're in an engrossing conversation with a friend or during a vital business meeting. It promises a better balance between technology and human-to-human interaction.

But, what real-world implications does this patent have? First, it could reshape etiquette around digital devices. Currently, it's considered rude to glance at your phone while having a conversation. But if your digital assistant knows when to keep quiet, you won't have to worry about it butting in mid-conversation or risk appearing disrespectful or distracted. This technological etiquette could greatly help in professional settings where mobile interruptions can be seen as unprofessional or show a lack of focus.

Furthermore, this patent, if brought to life, can help create a more natural converging point between technology and day-to-day life. Devices with such technology can understand the complexity of our tasks and become not just tools, but partners in daily life, causing less disruption and more convenience.

P.S. Although it's exciting to predict how this feature could change our experiences with digital devices, it's crucial to remember that this is currently only a patent. So there's no absolute guarantee it will find its way to the next version of Siri or any product in the near future. Patents show a direction of thinking and exploration for companies, but not all patents turn into real products.

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