White HomePod sitting on a television standSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • A new Apple patent has revealed that the HomePod might one day feature a camera in its design.
  • The patent reveals how the device could use gaze control to identify users making a request, and an external device that the user wants it to act on, like a lamp.

A new Apple patent has revealed how a HomePod of the future could feature a camera that can be used to identify not only the user making a request but also specific items in the home it is being asked to act on.

The new patent is titled 'Device control using gaze information' and the abstract states:

The present disclosure generally relates to controlling electronic devices. In some examples, the electronic device uses gaze information to activate a digital assistant. In some examples, the electronic device uses gaze information to identify an external device on which to act. In some examples, the electronic device provides an indication that distinguishes between different speakers.

Apple Homepod PatentSource: Apple/USPTO

As per the images and the patent's description, a future HomePod may feature a camera that can be used in conjunction with the microphone to help improve the device's response to requests in a number of ways. The camera could be used to identify who is making the request to the device, providing a personal response to the user depending on who the device identifies. This could also work as a security feature akin to Face ID, whereby people who the device doesn't recognize wouldn't be able to activate your device.

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Not only that, the technology could be used to identify items the device can interact with, for example, a HomeKit enabled light in a particular room. For example, the device could identify your position in the room and what you're looking at to better respond to your request. You could simply say to the HomePod "Hey Siri, turn on that light", and the HomePod would know which light you were referring to by measuring where you're looking.

The patent is incredibly dense, and it seems like there are lots more embodiments of how such tech could be used. As always, this is just an idea Apple has committed to paper and certainly doesn't signal that a product of this nature will ever see the light of day. Still cool though!