The first generation of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker isn’t available to consumers until next month, but a new report from Nikkei is already looking to the future. The report suggests that Apple may be working to include its Face ID technology in HomePod by 2019…
The report cites a quote from David Ho, president of Inventec Appliances, the company responsible for producing Apple’s HomePod, as well as AirPods. Ho explains that his company sees smart speaker trends that companies are working on to “incorporate features such as a facial and image recognition.”
In addition to Apple, Inventec Appliances also produces products for Sonos, but Nikkei cites analysts in saying he’s likely referring to “the next generation of Apple’s HomePod.”
“We see trends that engineers are designing smart speakers that will not only come with voice recognition but also incorporate features such as facial and image recognition,” President David Ho told reporters after the company’s earnings conference.
“Such AI-related features are set to make people’s lives more convenient and to make the product easier to use.”
As for when Face ID could make its way to the HomePod:
Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Investment Consulting, said Apple could roll out HomePods with 3D-sensing cameras in 2019.
Nikkei’s report definitely is a bit forward-looking, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard reports of the HomePod featuring facial recognition. In May of last year, a report claimed that Apple’s smart speaker would feature a video camera for “facial recognition technology.”
Of course, when Apple unveiled HomePod earlier this year at WWDC, facial recognition was nowhere to be found. That doesn’t mean it’s not coming at some point down the line. Apple is expected to bring Face ID to the iPad Pro lineup next year, so it’s clear the company intends to expand the feature to other segments of its product lineup.
Facial recognition on the HomePod would allow for features such as different user profiles, with Face ID being able to automatically detect who was in the room and default to their user profile.
Apple hasn’t yet confirmed a release date for HomePod. At WWDC, the company said it would be available in December of this year.