The future of the HomePod could go through the use of touch-sensitive fabrics

HomePod mini

Little or almost nothing is said about the HomePod in either of its two variants. It is true that it does not even look like an Apple product. We have gone from having a large speaker with a good sound but poor options to a lightweight speaker with a sound that can be improved and with options still under development. maybe that’s why little is said about him. But that does not mean that it is forgotten. This new Apple patent shows that the company is still determined to find you a privileged place. A fabric that surrounds the HomePod and have touch-sensitive options.

Apple is working on the idea of ​​putting a few species of fabrics containing touch-sensitive materials and screen controls. In this way the protective case around the future HomePod mini could have extra functionality. The HomePod mini, like the original HomePod before it and perhaps future ones to come, have a touch-sensitive panel on top. The problem is if you have it placed on a shelf and that panel is a bit far and inaccessible. You always have Siri, who also just turned 10 years old, but she is not always very attentive.

The American company has just obtained a patent in which future speakers could have a fabric that can detect touch. So maybe the entire acoustic wraparound shell of a HomePod mini would be replaced by that fabric, or they would only do so in key areas. That is yet to be determined. Because as we always say with patents, they may stay just what they are. Some ideas. Because many of them do not see the light and do not go to the markets.

In the patent named as “Cloth-covered electronic device with touch sensor”:

Electronic devices such as audio devices can include cloth. As an example, the housing of a speaker can be covered with a layer of fabric. Apertures may be provided in the fabric to allow sound to be emitted from within the device. It can be challenging to improve the functionality of a speaker. For example, it can be difficult to integrate input and output devices into a speaker with a fabric layer. If care is not taken, the user may find it cumbersome to provide input and receive output from the speaker. A touch sensor can be used to detect touch input on the fabric layer. The touch sensor can include capacitive touch sensor electrodes, including transmission lines and sensing lines.

HomePod Fabric Patent

This is how the central part of the HomePod would look

The patent is very specific as to the details of how the mesh or fabric system would work on the HomePod. but it also focuses on how the response that the user receives from the device should be. That is, to confirm that the touch or function operated by the owner of the loudspeaker has actually been produced in an effective manner. Because knowing if the music has stopped or not is easy but other more subtle tasks can be confusing. For example, modify the volume in small sections.

It also asks where is the best place to place that interactive canvas. “Light-emitting components and / or fabric with different visual characteristics can be used to mark where the touch-sensitive regions of the fabric are.” “Touch-sensitive regions can be in the form of media control symbols.”

Not that it’s one of the most innovative ideas in the world, because those controls are a bit reminiscent of those that already exist on other speakers. The novelty is that they would be part of the HomePod itself. I would not have a panel for these controls. It would be something more immersive, more discreet. The downside is that it doesn’t work as expected. Because sometimes touch controls are unfriendly and if on top of that they are done in a way that goes unnoticed, we can find ourselves with a total hassle.

Therefore, for now it may only be a patent and as we have said previously, it may always remain as it is until now. Only time will be able to determine if we are indeed facing a revolutionary idea that marks the future of the market of smart speakers.

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