Yes, you read it right and yes, the idea does sound silly on the surface. Still Apple has pulled off even stranger reinvention stunts in the past, so, we have to at least give the newly uncovered patent the benefit of the doubt.
The document in question outlines a « Point-to-point ad hoc voice communication », which, taking into consideration the diagrams as well, seems to boil down to using a short range communication technology, like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to establish a voice link between individuals on a peer-to-peer basis. So, the walkie-talkie analogy is a perfect fit, but we can only presume Apple’s intention is to rethink the concept for the 21 century.
It would appear that the key element that differentiates the device outlined in the patent from, a fancy Bluetooth headset is the smart software component. The document outlines some sort of smart touch interface that appears to be used to manage advanced talking rules, perhaps with the addition of things like separate channels with encryption, priority, or user roles and privileges. The device cold be powering this interface by itself, but there are also parts in the text, suggesting that it will be able to connect wirelessly or otherwise to Apple devices, like an iPhone.
When you think about it, such a technology could actually make a lot of sense. Walki-talkies or at least similar radio-based communication equipment is still widely used in many professional settings – security, construction, logistics and all types of people coordination, to name a few. Even Apple employees sometimes benefit from such communication within front desks and the back of an Apple store.
Adding a dash of smarts to the otherwise antiquated technology could definitely revitalize it. Even a simple contact management system is way better than punching in channels, which is usually the case. But, before we get ahead of ourselves and ponder about the patent any longer, it is worth noting that like most patents, it is uncertain whether it will make it to a product at all, let alone when.
Still, tell us what you think about the patent and its possible implications and would you buy an iTalkie (if it sticks, you heard it here first)?