Apple has received a patent for sonar-style echolocation for passive proximity detection and a text-to-speech engine. The text-to-speech engine gives a personality to the computer-generated voices that it uses.
The first patent is called “Voice assignment for text-to-speech output” and it can alter text-to-speech (TTS) profiles based on metadata from content that is found on a user’s phone or device. For example, if it is reading an e-mail from a contact that is in the U.K. and is a 25-year-old male, then the voice would be a man with a British accent. The patent would use recorded audio from a database off-site so that the e-mail sounds natural.
The other patent application is a sound-based echolocation system that lets a device determine its distance from other objects. The mic on the phone would be able to take in ambient sound and determine the relative position.
[AppleInsider Story 1/Story 2]