Siri, the “humble personal assistant”, took center stage at the iPhone 4S announcement yesterday, and though it might be easy to brush off the feature as something Apple just plugged in following its acquisition of the app developers, speech recognition is actually something they’ve been thinking about since 1987. This video shows the Knowledge Navigator, a concept Apple had cooked up of a personal assistant with which you could have natural conversations to accomplish day-to-day tasks – which describes Siri in a nutshell. Some of the technology shown is already in the hands of consumers, like video calling, touchscreen tablet-style computers, collaborative online workspaces, and voice-activated web searches. There’s also some fancier stuff, like foldable displays, which we’ve seen in prototype phases, but still isn’t commonplace.
The main thing here is that Apple is realizing a vision borne over 20 years ago. While I’m sure Tim Cook will do a good job keeping iPhone products coming out of the woodwork, I worry that without Steve Jobs around, the company will lose some of its dogged, long-term fanaticism and vision. The creepiest thing about this whole video is that it took place in what was the far future of 2011. Do you think Cook will be able to see 20 years into the future from now, or has Jobs has left behind a roadmap?