Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20230185373 A1) for “device control using gaze information” that hints at future HomePod devices that respond when you’re looking at them.
About the patent filing
In the patent filing, Apple notes that users frequently provide inputs, such as keypresses and voice inputs, to control electronic devices. For example, users activate a device’s button or speak a trigger phrase to start an application on the device. Such inputs frequently require the user to be within arm’s reach or within microphone range.
Apple adds that a digital assistant such as Siri can provide a beneficial interface between human users and electronic devices. Such assistants can allow users to interact with devices or systems using natural language in spoken and/or text forms. For example, a user can provide a speech input containing a user request to a digital assistant operating on an electronic device.
The digital assistant can interpret the user’s intent from the speech input, operationalize the user’s intent into a task, and perform the task. In some systems, performing tasks in this manner may be constrained in the manner by which a task is identified.
However, in some cases, however, a user may be limited to a particular set of commands such that the user cannot readily instruct a digital assistant to perform a task using natural-language speech inputs. Further, in many instances digital assistants fail to adapt based on previous user behavior and in turn lack a desirable optimization of user experience.
Summary of the patent filing
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “The present disclosure generally relates to controlling electronic devices. In some examples, the electronic device uses gaze information to activate a digital assistant. In some examples, the electronic device uses gaze information to identify an external device on which to act. In some examples, the electronic device provides an indication that distinguishes between different speakers.”
Apple solution is for HomePods and similar devices to be equipped with gaze detection sensors that can tell, and respond, when you’re looking at them.