If successful, it could lead to all iDevices being protected by voice biometrics.
If you own a device running Siri, all it takes to get her attention is to utter the phrase “Hey, Siri.” But what if there are multiple Siri-enabled devices in the room, and you only want one of them to respond? Or what if you don’t own all of those devices? Apple may have a fix for that, and with it introduce a whole new layer of security to iDevices.
Patently Apple discovered a patent filed by Apple describing a system where Siri is capable of learning to recognize specific voices. In so doing, Siri could associate a voice and spoken phrase with a specific device such as an iPhone or iPad. Rather than just a helpful assistant, Siri would become a voice biometric and gatekeeper to your gadgets.
If this system ended up being released, we’d likely stop hearing the “Hey, Siri” phrase. Instead, a custom phrase (Apple calls this a “Lexical Trigger”) would be chosen to act as your voice password. Siri would have a training process to learn an owner’s voice, and the device would remain locked for anyone else attempting to gain access. You may even be able to double up on security, for example, requiring TouchID and a voice command.
Siri is always getting smarter, but using it as a voice biometric makes a lot of sense because it’s already an established form of interaction for iDevices by millions of people. It can also be expanded to new products with ease. The Apple Watch, MacBooks, Apple TV, and maybe even an Apple Car one day could take advantage of this extra security.
Patently Apple points out that the patent application was filed in the second quarter of 2016, so this certainly isn’t a new project for Apple. Maybe we’ll see it ship with the iPhone 8? But before finalizing the system, I urge Apple to also look into Lip Passwords, which would be a simple addition that adds even more security.