A patent detailing what's possibly Samsung's first Bixby-enabled speaker was published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the World Intellectual Property Organizations several weeks back, with the company submitting both filings last November, approximately a year after securing an identical IP in its home country of South Korea, as first discovered by Dutch tech blog LetsGoDigital. The overall design of the smart speaker seen in the gallery below is also extremely reminiscent of an IP Samsung filed to secure with the European Union Intellectual Property Office in late 2016; back then, it was speculated that the device would launch as the Samsung Hello.
Both solutions are also seemingly inspired by Samsung's Otto robot debuted over two years ago, though the firm appears to have refined its design to make it more rounded and equipped the gadget with both a screen and a microphone. As a result, the tech giant's first Bixby-enabled speaker may be a direct competitor to Amazon's Echo Show and Google Assistant-supported smart displays from companies such as Lenovo. The newly uncovered patent states that Samsung's offering features seven microphones in total, together with a head that can rotate 360 degrees. The robot-like creation can leverage that hardware to deduce where any given sound is coming from and turn its head into that direction so as to better hear what the user has to say, the patent suggests. Flash memory (microSD card) integration is also possible, as is adding support for HDMI and USB connections, according to Samsung's engineers.
Finally, the filing mentions a stylus that the robot can detect while it's hovering above its screen, similar to how the Galaxy Note-series Android devices are able to interact with their S Pens. Samsung previously confirmed it's developing its first Bixby-enabled speaker in collaboration with its subsidiary Harman Kardon, having suggested the gadget will be announced and commercialized in the second half of 2018. The latest set of patents is in line with previous reports about the device which alleged it will be able to make phone calls and serve as a home automation hub.