Apple is in conflict with many companies who have accused of infringing upon Apple’s patents. Some companies have also accused Apple of infringing upon their patents. But what would happen if a popular and successful technology of Apple is accused of infringing an old patent. In this case, it is Siri.
Shawn Carolan, an investor in Siri Inc, of Menlo ventures recently discussed the technology behind Siri with Bloomberg. In his discussion, he spoke about exactly Siri’s ability to recognize voice and take voice recognition data. The mentioned approach discussed how Siri’s approach included “one big block” and mapping “strings of words across” a group of 10 domains of expertise.
Robert Cringely, a technology journalist said that this method was similar to patents owned by the search portal Excite from 1994. He mentioned the following:
Here’s how the ArchiText (later Excite) search engine worked. Every query was stripped to its significant words — subjects, objects, verbs and adjectives — then each query became a vector in a multidimensional space with each unique word being a dimension. “How do space rockets stay in orbit when they are flying through space?” would become a vector string one unit long for each of those words but two units long for the word “space.” This bit of semantic DNA was then mapped against an index of millions of web pages that had all been similarly converted to multidimensional vectors. It was quick, scalable, concentrated the processing load on the indexing where it didn’t bog down retrieval, and could reliably return pages like “Why satellites fall from the sky” that might answer the question even though none of the same words were used.
It is expected that Excite patents will have a new ownership and compete with Siri. Graham Spencer, the original inventor of this patent, currently works as an Engineering partner at Google Ventures following his role as Engineering director at Google. In March 2004, Ask Jeeves had acquired Excite. Let us see if Siri gets some competition in near future or not. If Cringely’s claim is true. there is the possibility that Apple might attempt to acquire the patents to cover important aspects of Siri’s technology.
What do you think about idea of various Siri like services? Do you think Apple will try to patent Siri? Share your thoughts and opinions below.