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Apple has been known to sell what they like to call “Docks” for their mobile products, but Apple’s lineup of Dock products have thus far been fairly limited in scope – usually nothing more than a simple connector for charging and a port for audio-out. All of that could change sometime in the not too distant future however, as the United States Patent and Trademark Office has just revealed the filing for a totally new product that Apple appears to have dubbed the Smart Dock.

According to the drawings provided alongside the application and provided by AppleInsider, such a Smart Dock appears to provide some big additions to the concept of a dock  – namely, a full touch screen, a scroll wheel, and perhaps most notably – hands off Siri support.

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The accessory seems capable of acting independent of an iOS device, and would be able to act as an AM/FM radio as well as an alarm clock. But when you plug in your iOS device, that’s when things truly interesting. The Smart Dock will be able to use your device’s insanely powerful CPU to keep listen for an audio cue that would then activate Siri, totally hands free – not dissimilar from Google’s “Okay, Google Now” cue that was introduced with the Moto X and expanded in Android 4.4 (It’s worth noting that the Apple Smart Dock patent was submitted over a year prior to the introduction of the Moto X, in May of 2012.)

The set up process would be as simple as plugging in your iOS device, teaching your Smart Dock what audio cue to keep an ear out for, and determining the amount of ambient noise to take into consideration in the environment. From there, a simple clap of the hands or even a whistle could be enough to activate Siri; from there, it would be simple as simple as talking to Siri to play music, get results on Wolfram Alpha, read and reply to messages, and more.

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To make things even more exciting, the images reveal that Apple, in a very “un-Apple” move, is seemingly looking at expansion possibilities for the Smart Dock. The patents outline multiple user replaceable parts, including internal storage support, support for a GPS module, various sensors, and more. True to its name, this would essentially be one of the smartest docking system in the world.

No sign as of yet when or if such a product will ever make it to market, or what form it could take if it does – there are plenty of patents Apple has submitted in the past that have yet to turn out in the marketplace, some of which are years and years old. Still, this is certainly an exciting space to keep your eyes on.


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