A recently discovered Microsoft patent suggests the tech giant might enter the smart speaker field with a device of its own. The patent covers a smart speaker with a built-in projection system that could be used for Skype calls. Last month, Microsoft filed for another patent for a “Skype dock” for Apple devices. This new patent is, in a way, an evolution of the previous patent. While it centers around a different product, many of the same ideas are still present.
According to the patent, the device could allow users to make a Skype call without a PC, Mac, or mobile device. The smart speaker consists of several different parts and looks similar to an Amazon Echo or an Apple HomePod. The cylindrical shape allows the camera and the projector to move independently of one another. In theory, this means that the device could track a person as they move throughout the room so that eye contact can always be held no matter the position.
The projector is designed to cast an image on a flat surface like a table or a wall. It also has a depth camera built into it that could, in theory, be used to create 3D reconstructions of conference calls. The projection is done thanks to a Pico projector, which lets a user gain all the benefits of a larger display while maintaining the compact style of smart device.
The patent also suggests that two devices can be used in different rooms at the same time, allowing a person to move from one room to another while continuing the same conversation.
This device would be Microsoft’s first independent smart speaker, but the company did release the Invoke smart speaker in 2017 in conjunction with Harman Kardon. Since then, however, Microsoft hasn’t released any other smart speakers, especially since Cortana is no longer a primary focus for the company.
The patent is fresh and no official news has been released, but Microsoft’s long-awaited Surface Speaker made no appearance at the October 2019 Surface event. This patent might indicate the coming of a new speaker from Microsoft to release alongside the Surface Speaker.
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