The "Smart dock for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable device" is exactly what it sounds like: a little dock that would sit on your bedside table, always listening for the magic keyword (think: "OK, Google"). Once it does, it would send the command wirelessly to a paired iPhone or iPad, which would then process it and send it back to the dock. In addition to a microphone, the dock would also feature speakers to wirelessly play back your music and a touchscreen that could display video, calendars, appointments, pictures, and more, reports Apple Insider.
Here are the lines in the patent that spill the beans:
In order to utilize the various functionalities provided by a portable electronic device, a user typically must interact with their device using finger controls and/or a graphical user interface (GUI) included on their device. However, such interaction requires that the portable electronic device be in close proximity to the user (e.g., in the user's hand). If the user is not proximate to their portable electronic device (e.g., if their device is connected to a charging power source on the other side of the room), the user may be unable to utilize the various services provided by their device in a timely and convenient manner.
Why would you need a dock to process a voice command instead of having the iPhone always listening to you the way Google's Moto X does?
What makes this device truly interesting is its smart home potential. Apple is working hard to take Siri to the next level. The company advertised 12 different Siri-related positions in April ranging from a speech operations engineer to Siri software engineers.