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A recently published Apple patent application suggests that a future HomePod could feature support for 3D hand gestures, Face ID, and much more.

homepod-still-800x450.jpg

While the patent application does not refer to the HomePod by name, it describes a voice-controlled assistant device such as a "countertop speaker" with various sensors and cameras that "gather hand gestures and other three-dimensional gesture input." This could include waving, clapping, and so forth.

Interestingly, the HomePod could have LEDs woven into the fabric to provide visual feedback for the hand gestures. The LEDs could also be configured to display alphanumeric characters through the fabric that change depending on time of day.

3D hand gesture support on the HomePod could utilize technology Apple gained from its acquisition of PrimeSense in 2013. In 2016, for example, Apple filed a patent for hand gestures on the Mac such as push, up, and wave that could be used to perform basic app interactions like scrolling through a menu.
Gestures described herein include focus gestures and unlock gestures. A focus gesture enables the user to engage (i.e., take control of) an inactive non-tactile 3D user interface. An unlock gesture enables the user to engage a locked non-tactile 3D user interface, as pressing a specific sequence of keys unlocks a locked cellular phone. In some embodiments, the non-tactile 3D user interface conveys visual feedback to the user performing the focus and the unlock gestures.

Examples of unlock gestures include an "up" gesture (e.g., raising hand 30 a specified distance), a sequence of two sequential wave gestures, and a sequence of two sequential push gestures, as described in detail hereinbelow.
PrimeSense's technologies were initially used by Microsoft for its Kinect motion sensor for Xbox. Apple later incorporated some of the technologies into the TrueDepth system that powers Face ID on the iPhone X and newer.

As for Face ID, the patent explains that the HomePod could identify users in the vicinity of the speaker using "facial recognition," as well as measure the distance of users to the speaker. This could allow for biometric authentication of Personal Requests, multiple user profiles, and more on a future HomePod.

In late 2017, the president of Apple supplier Inventec said his company sees a trend towards both facial and image recognition technology being incorporated into smart speakers, without specifying which speakers in particular. This led Apple analyst Jeff Pu to predict the launch of a Face ID-enabled HomePod in 2019.

The exhaustive patent goes on to describe a variety of other potential features for a future HomePod, such as ambient light sensing, displaying a sunshine icon if sunny weather is forecast, displaying the logo of a sports team that wins a game, heart rate sensing, and much more.

One quirky feature mentioned is an emoji-based avatar that would adapt to a user's mood or actions. If the user is sad, for example, the emoji may reflect sadness. Or, if a user asks the HomePod for information on purchasing a birthday gift, the speaker may display a happy emoji to present results.

The patent application was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2017, six months prior to the launch of the current HomePod, but it was only published in late January due to a standard 18-month confidentiality period.

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, of course, and many of the inventions do not see the light of day. Patents are also very detailed, encompassing many possible ideas, even ones that Apple might not have any plans to advance. So, the exact implementation if any remains to be seen.

Article Link: Future HomePod Could Feature 3D Hand Gestures and Face ID
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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I’m not entirely sure how I feel about gestures having to control/manipulate the HomePod, also, but more than anything, I’m skeptical Face ID will be implemented into the HomePod. But gesture controls does seem ‘Apple-like’
 
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TimUSCA

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2006
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Face ID doesn't make sense in a HomePod. It would completely remove the ability to speak to it from across the room or from another room entirely. All we need is voice recognition with the ability to add more than one profile so that calendar entries, reminders, and Music is associated with the correct iCloud account. And we don't even need a new HomePod for that.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
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I can’t even imagine how/what/why you’d use it...

Face ID doesn't make sense in a HomePod. It would completely remove the ability to speak to it from across the room or from another room entirely. All we need is voice recognition with the ability to add more than one profile so that calendar entries, reminders, and Music is associated with the correct iCloud account. And we don't even need a new HomePod for that.

The future of computing is natural communication. Verbal communication is only a part of how we talk to one another. Seeing and interpreting expressions and hand gestures are an important part of how we communicate.
 

isomorphic

macrumors regular
Apr 19, 2010
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"Almost no one bought our first smart speaker because it was wildly overpriced for what people perceived the market to be."

"Right. So let's add a bunch of expensive features for the next model. That way everyone will know we're not in the 'cheap smart speaker' market. We'll sell dozens!"
 

TimUSCA

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2006
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The future of computing is natural communication. Verbal communication is only a part of how we talk to one another. Seeing and interpreting expressions and hand gestures are an important part of how we communicate.
I get that, but communication takes a step back if I'm required to stand in front of the thing to make it work. It makes sense on a phone because you have to look at it to use it. HomePod is used in a completely different way.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
5,616
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Toronto, ON
I get that, but communication takes a step back if I'm required to stand in front of the thing to make it work. It makes sense on a phone because you have to look at it to use it. HomePod is used in a completely different way.

Who says that you have to stand in front of it? When you’re talking to someone, do you have to carefully position yourself in front of them?

A HomePod with a high definition camera could identify the speaker anywhere in the room and interpret its facial expressions and other non verbal cues like nodding, shrugging, pointing, etc.

This technology already exists. It just hasn’t been implemented into a consumer product. If there’s a company that can create simple, intuitive, frictionless experiences out of very complex technology, it’s Apple.
 
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magicschoolbus

macrumors 68020
May 27, 2014
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Apple really should make a device that competes with Amazon and Google by providing something like the Echo spot. I think most people know the sound on these devices suck - thats why most people just bluetooth the echo spot to a bluetooth system that already exists in the house.

In my opinion, apple would gain way more momentum in the market by separating the home pod into 2 different products - a echo spot like device, and then the actuall homepod which are just speakers you put around your home. Seperating the two would allow them to sell the interface part of the system at a much lower price, and users could opt into buying apples home speaker lineup for the "homepod" sound.
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,601
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Cork, Ireland.
Appendix 10.5.ii (part 2) : Your facial features and hand gestures will need to be updated to our cloud servers for processing. This does not affect your privacy.

:p
 
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