Hey, Siri, whisper into my ear; Apple patent involves whispered speech

Apple wants Siri, its “personal digital assistant,” to be able to whisper a response.The company has been granted a patent (number 10,192,552) for a “digital assistant providing a whispered speech.”

Systems and processes for detecting and/or providing a whispered speech response are provided. In one example process, speech is received from a user, and based on the speech input, determined that a whispered speech response is to be provided. Upon determining that a whispered speech response is to be provided, the whispered speech response is generated and provided to the user.

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In the patent filing, Apple notes that a speech recognition device may be used under different circumstances or in different environments. For example, a user may ask the device a question while working at a cubicle with other co-workers surrounding the user. 

A user may also ask the device a question while attending a meeting in a conference room with other meeting participants. A user may also speak to the device while studying in a library where speaking loudly may be prohibited. 

Under some circumstances, the user may whisper speech to the device and/or desire that responses be whispered. Apple says that this means it’s important that a device recognizes the user's whispered speech, which may vary from normal speech, and provide a whispered speech response under these circumstances. 

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.