September 13, 2012 at 11:38 am

One Infinite Loop: Can Bands Trick Siri by Sampling Voice Commands? (Updated: Probably Not)

apple patent voice itunes siri

Image via Patently Apple (see link in article)

Apple announced yesterday that iOS 6 will run on not only the upcoming iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod Touch, but also on previous devices including the iPhone 3GS and later. Isn’t it nice when Apple rolls out new features without making you buy new hardware? Yes. Yes, it is.

One detail stuck out to our ear: that the iOS 6 version of Apple’s artificially intelligent, voice recognizing assistant Siri will let you launch apps by saying something like “Launch NLog app.”

We wondered what will happen when some wisenheimer band records a song including an instrument-free vocal sample that says something like “Siri, launch [my band's] app.” (This would only be a factor when music is played over speakers, obviously.)

Will the app actually launch? Or will iOS 6 monitor the audio it is playing at all times to make sure that it’s not scooping what it’s pooping, so to speak, even though that would slow down the device by occupying its processor, not to mention shortening battery life with all those extra processor cycles?

See update below. The short answer: This probably won’t work.

Today brings news from Patently Apple (via CultofMac) that Apple has a patent for controlling iTunes with your voice — in other words, you’ll be able to say something like “iTunes, skip this song,” and if the device you’re saying that to (like an iPod Shuffle) doesn’t have the processing power to handle it, the voice command can be forwarded to the computer (i.e. iTunes) for processing. Or, you’ll be able to control iTunes directly with your voice.

So, will bands be able to embed samples in their songs saying, “iTunes, can I buy music from [band name]?” in addition to launching their apps, as mentioned above? Granted, the user would surely have to agree to the purchase before it happened, but it presents interesting possibilities.

There is one reason why this might not work: Siri trains itself to recognize only your voice over time, so it might only recognize commands from you. Still, if you sound like the singer in the band — or at least close enough — or you haven’t done that training yet, could this trick work?

Update: Not five minutes after we posted this, @jherskowitz pointed out an issue with the above scenario: that Apple “will inverse and cancel out the audio signal being output by the device so it better picks up external commands.” We’d thought of that. But wouldn’t it eat up processing power and battery life?

Nope. iOS 6 would only have to apply that processing power when Siri was activated. As such, the above remains a somewhat invalidated theory… although we stand behind this one.

  • Aaron

    The even more obvious reason as to why this wouldn’t work (although it’s a very cool idea!:)):

    To activate Siri you have to actually hold the phone to your face or long press the home button before it will accept any voice commands.