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.”
“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.”
The patent application also describes the countertop speaker as being able to recognize “users in the vicinity of the speaker using facial recognition, as well as measure the distance of users [in relation] to the speaker.”
MacRumors suggests that the 3D hand gestures discussed in the patent could use technology Apple gained from its acquisition of PrimeSense in 2013.
This past week a series of patents related to the iPhone X were published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including Apple’s integrated Face ID 3D facial recognition technology that introduced the biometric concept to millions of consumers.