Apple HomePod patent could fix one big smart home pain point

A future HomePod could be capable of working out what smart home accessory you want to control using nothing more than what you happen to be looking at. That’s if a patent granted to Apple turns into a product that we can buy at the Apple Store. The feature would also presumably apply to the HomePod mini, or a future version of it, as well.

The patent suggests that Apple could put cameras into its future smart speakers in an attempt to give them a better understanding of what users want. There could also be a biometric authentication and identification component as well.

Hey Siri, turn that lamp on
As any smart speaker owner knows, asking Siri – or indeed any digital assistant – to turn on a lamp or control another smart home accessory can be a pain. You normally need to remember what the accessory is called, making it more of a test of memory than a smart home. That could change with this patent.

First spotted by Patently Apple, the patent suggests that a camera could be used to track a user’s gaze when they ask for something to happen. Imagine asking your HomePod to turn a lamp on, for example. A user could simply look at the lamp in question while making the request “turn that lamp on” and the HomePod would know what to do.

That alone would be a big improvement over the current situation, but the use of a camera might not stop there. The same patent suggests that Apple could use Face ID to detect who is in the room and then potentially tailor its responses based on who is issuing the command. Siri is supposed to do that now using to voice recognition, but it’s far from perfect in our experience. Especially when dealing with members of the same family who sound similar – a father and son, or brothers, for example.

It’s important to note that these patents don’t always turn into shipping products, so this might never come to fruition. But some patents obviously do, so fingers crossed this is one of those.

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