Hacking Siri for Learning

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When Apple launched the iPhone 4S, one of the key differentiators to previous models was the inclusion of Siri. For those who haven’t been bombarded yet by the marketing campaigns, Siri is an intelligent software assistant and a knowledge navigator that essentially functions like a digital personal assistant. You can find out more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siri_(software).

To get the official Apple spiel, see here: http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/siri.html

Apple isn’t known to condone hackers modifying their products and software. When they started out, their hardware and software platforms were fairly open; as time has gone by, Apple has closed of its product/service ecosystems and removed much of that initial openness in favor of tight control (curation of sorts) over its platform. Given this closed environment, it is even more interesting that folks out there are hacking Siri to do stuff that Apple hasn’t included as standard Siri functionality. Here are a couple of impressive examples:

Lamonica – controlling the thermostat of his home with Siri. He was able to trick Siri into thinking it is communicating with Apple’s server, and wrote custom handlers to control a Wifi-enabled thermostat.

A developer was able to hack Siri to find and play content through media center software. Very cool indeed.

Couple of ideas pop into my mind right away about how technology like Siri could help learning – first, to function as an effective search agent within corporate CMS and KM solutions. I love the thought of being able to ask a personal computing device to find things for me, with minimal intervention required. This can be especially useful for knowledge workers responding to customers or critical situations that require accurate information. Siri like technology will probably have a fairly significant impact in the workplace when used this way. Second, to access and read out step by step procedures to support just-in-time performances. This sort of thing would be great for people who work with tools of all sorts and encounter varied procedures at work. For example, a car technician may have to use the same set of tools but different procedures depending on the automobile he/she is working with. Retrieving manufacturer and model specific procedures (ex., the replacement of a part).

Such technology can be used in many creative ways; I’ve been looking for Siri hacks that revolve around learning, but have been unable to find anything. Has any of you seen such a hack? Please comment.

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