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Apple hid a bunch of futuristic ideas in this HomePod patent

Apple hid a bunch of futuristic ideas in this HomePod patent


An emoji assistant becomes your mood ring

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top of the homepod
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Apple had an idea for a future HomePod that would offer an emoji version of Siri and LED lights that could display a variety of useful information, starting with the weather. In a 2017 patent application that was made publicly available in late January, Apple threw a bunch of increasingly far-out ideas onto its request to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as spotted by Mac Rumors.

The patent doesn’t name the HomePod specifically, but it does describe it pretty accurately as a device housed by fabric walls containing a mic and a speaker, so it’s hard to think Apple is talking about something else. That said, Apple is thinking of interweaving LEDs within the fabric to display everything from the weather to the time to sports results. The patent also describes the same tech displaying incoming email subject lines and even an emoji-based representation of Siri.

Siri as a mood ring

The LEDs could supposedly respond and change when you wave your hand in front of it, using 3D gesture support. Emoji Siri could display different moods and expressions depending on the context it was in, Apple proposes. For instance, it could pick up, by listening to your voice, whether you sounded sad. From there, Siri could either commiserate and also look sad, or, and Apple hasn’t quite decided on this yet, it might look happy so as to help you cheer up. Presumably, this could come with appropriate music choice suggestions.

Apple even proposes a way for Siri to analyze the tone of your emails and read them back to you while showing a sad, happy, or angry face. The mood would depend on the overall vibe your incoming email gave off. Apple also proposes the email sender could pick out which emotion it wanted Siri to adopt.

HomePod might also some day gain Face ID to figure out who was standing near it and how far away they might be, letting it customize user profiles and music requests. Further down the line, it might be able to better pick out if its owner was nearby and then grant access to personal messages, notes, and reminders. Or it could see that a guest of the home was near and remove that access for now.

Of course, all those wild, futuristic ideas still rest inside a patent application for now. So it’s too early to tell when, if ever, they’ll materialize into an actual product.