Although he did not specify which product he was talking about, analysts believe he is likely referring to the next generation of Apple's HomePod.
The company that assembles Apple's HomePod smart speaker, Inventec Appliances, said last week that it expects features offered by 3D-sensing cameras to eventually be available on smart speakers. "Such AI-related features are set to make people's lives more convenient and to make the product easier to use". The executive did say that he isn't sure that a smart speaker with AI would be in demand by consumers. For those unfamiliar, Inventec is the manufacturer of Apple's upcoming HomePod, and while the company's president David Ho did not mention Apple by name, it has led to speculation that perhaps Ho could be speaking about future iterations of the HomePod.
The question arises here is, what is the use of Face ID on a smart speaker? As for when we might see a HomePod with 3D-sensing capabilities, Yuanta Investment Consulting analyst Jeff Pu predicts that a HomePod with 3D sensing could hit the market by 2019.
Ho confirms that his company will ship a "new voice-enabled smart speaker" by the end of the year to meet the holiday season demand.
Like we said, those already concerned about smart speakers listening in on them could find this "trend" worrying as they might now worry about being constantly watched.
Apple said earlier this year that HomePod will be available in December, initially in Australia, the USA and the U.K. Inventec Appliances will only ship about 50,000 units of the device by the end of this year, said Arthur Liao, an analyst at Taipei-based Fubon Securities.
Inventec's total shipments of smart and connected devices is expected to see a single digit growth in 2018 from this year's estimated level of around 70 million units.