Los Angeles – In a recently filed patent, Apple Inc. set out its plans to make Siri more realistic by adding a crowd sourcing feature. The recently filed patent sounds similar to the already existing search engine, ChaCha, which allows users to search for answers provided by real life people. The technology is being thought of by many as Apple’s attempt to fix the most cited complaint about Siri in that she often fails to provide answers to real life everyday questions, beyond purely factual information contained in search results.
The patent, which was filed in March, is titled, “Crowd Sourcing Information to Fulfill User Requests” and describes technology that would provide Siri with a sort of back up database of information. Currently, Siri is able to pull knowledge from several sources such as Wikipedia and Google. However, according the 24 claims laid out in the recent patent, with the new crowd sourcing implementation, if Siri was asked a questions she could not answer using the current sources, the digital assistant could then tap into the backup catalog of more “real-life” questions and answers.
Since its inception in 2011, Siri has been a topic of conversation for users asking funny questions to see what kinds of answers she will provide. From a practical perspective, however, Siri has some shortcomings. While Siri can easily provide factual information such as the projected spread of the upcoming football game or whether there is rain in the forecast, she often falls short when asked more nuanced questions. Crowd sourced search engine ChaCha has made these types of questions its forte. It can produce quick answers to questions like, “How many movies is the Statue of Liberty in?”,a query that would likely get an “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that” response from Siri.
The similarities between the new Apple patent and Chacha have left some wondering how novel this newly patented technology really is. For the time being, however, ChaCha does not seem worried about the potential threat, as its CEO Scott James was recently quoted as saying that he finds Siri to be “at the bottom of the list” of digital assistant technology. Whether his opinion changes if and when the new crowd sourcing Siri technology is released to Apple’s over 250 million iPhone users remains to be seen.