Comcast received a patent for this smart speaker design, but will it ever be released?

Comcast has received a patent for a smart speaker — one with a very unusual design, to say the least (thanks to @SteveDonohue on Twitter for pointing this out). Instead of opting for a spherical shape that comes with the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod Mini, or even the rounded rectangular look of the Google Nest Audio device, a sketch shows what appears to be a speaker with a sloped top and a wide base.

Online records show that Comcast first filed for the patent last year, but it didn’t get approved until April 2022. As seen in the sketch, the device seems to have playback controls on the side of the speaker, with an additional button and a small stand on the bottom.

The smart speaker design kind of looks like a bedpan (sorry, not sorry).
Image: Comcast via USPTO

At first glance, I’d say this device looks more like a router (minus the antennas) than a smart speaker, something I suppose makes sense for a company that specializes in connectivity. But after one of my colleagues said it looked like a bedpan, I just couldn’t unsee the resemblance.

The funny thing is that Comcast was reportedly looking into making some sort of health-focused speaker that tracked your bathroom habits in 2019. Although it never made it into the hands (or bathrooms) of consumers, it was supposed to come with sensors that tracked how often someone got up to use the bathroom and how long they stayed in there. At the time, Comcast made sure to emphasize that it was not a smart speaker. It’s not entirely clear if these two devices are somehow related, and Comcast didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

I’m going to try my best to reserve my judgments for now — it’s still hard to tell how the smart speaker will actually look from this sketch alone. If the device is ever released, however, I’d like to see how its design translates into a tangible speaker.