February 25, 2020
A recent patent hints that tech giant Microsoft may be entering the smart speaker market with a product of its own. The patent describes a smart speaker with a built-in projection system that could be used as a Skype conferencing device, without requiring a PC, Mac, or mobile device.
According to Patently Apple, the projector is designed to project the image on a flat surface, but it also has a depth camera that, in theory, could be used to create 3D reconstructions of conference calls. This would be done using a Pico projector, which allows users to project content from devices such as smartphones or tablets onto a wall.
The speaker itself consists of various parts, and looks similar to an Apple HomePod or Amazon Echo. The speaker’s cylindrical shape would allow the projector and the camera to move independently of each other, allowing the device to track a person as they move through a room and the user to maintain eye contact with the speaker no matter what part of the room they are in. Additionally, the patent suggests that two devices could be used simultaneously in different rooms, allowing a person to continue a conversation when they move to a second room.
Authors: Scott Kerr and Matt McDonald