An Apple patent application has cropped up on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website showing a smart docking station for the iPhone, something that will make using Siri from across the room a simple matter. According to the patent, the docking station has an integrated microphone that is always listening for voice commands, as well as a connector that will wake the device up when necessary.
As you can see from the drawing of the device, this docking station is quite substantial in size, and appears to harbor a generous display in addition to several other components. The patent reveals that it contains a processor, which is necessary to pull of some of its stated functionality, but it doesn't go into many details.
Says the patent: "[The station is] a dock for a portable electronic device, the dock comprising: a housing; a connector extending from the housing to connect the portable electronic device to the dock; a microphone integrated within the housing; and a processor operatively coupled to receive audio input from the microphone and configured to, in response to the audio input, transmit a message to the portable electronic device via the connector to activate a voice recognition mode of the portable electronic device."
Though this would provide obvious benefits for iPhone users, opening up the ability to use Siri while docked and without handling the phone, the patent goes on to talk about portable electronic devices in general, stating that such gadgets often provide voice command functionality, but that they also usually require some sort of activation in order to use it. This is what the docking station will solve by always listening for commands and waking up the smartphone when it does.
What the patent means in the grander scheme of things is uncertain -- whether Apple plans to actually produce the device and offer it to iOS users or rather patent the technology for other reasons is unclear, but for now it is a matter of waiting to see if the request is granted.