Apple patent involves ‘crowd sourcing information to fulfill user requests’

Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,953,088) for “crowd sourcing information to fulfill user requests.” Crow sourcing is the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people.

In the patent, Apple says that the ability of a digital assistant system (think Siri) to produce satisfactory responses to user requests depends on the natural language processing, knowledge base, and artificial intelligence implemented by the system. At any time, a digital assistant may be limited by its particular implementation, however sophisticated that implementation may be, and fail to produce a satisfactory response to a user's request.

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A well-designed response procedure in such a situation can improve a user's experience in interacting with the system and prevent the user's loss of confidence in the system's service. Apple thinks better implementation of crowd sourcing is the answer.

Per the patent, a user request is received from a mobile client device (an iPhone being the most likely candidate, or perhaps and Apple Watch), where the user request includes at least a speech input and seeks an informational answer or performance of a task. A failure to provide a satisfactory response to the user request is detected. 

In response to detection of the failure, information relevant to the user request is crowd-sourced by querying one or more crowd sourcing information sources. One or more answers are received from the crowd sourcing information sources, and the response to the user request is generated based on at least one of the one or more answers received from the one or more crowd sourcing information sources.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.