A recently published Apple patent suggests that the company could be planning to introduce Face ID and 3D hand gestures to its HomePod line of products. The patent specifically refers to a voice-controlled assistant such as a “countertop speaker,” and would allow such devices to recognize faces, as well as hand waves and other basic gestures.
The patent would likely make use of the PrimeSense technology that Apple acquired in 2013, which was previously used to power the Microsoft Kinect. The non-tactile interface makes it possible to unlock a device or scroll through a menu with a simple wave, eliminating the need for a keyboard or another physical input mechanism.
Adding Face ID would allow the HomePod to identify individual users and measure the distance of each user from the device. The patent also describes a feedback system that would use LEDs woven into the fabric of the speaker to display weather icons, sports results, and emojis based on the user’s mood and other contextual information.
The new patent arrives in the wake of a pair of Apple patents that focused on the automotive industry. The news indicates that Apple is still working to improve the HomePod, though there’s never any guarantee that a patent will become a finished product.