iEyeThis concept bears no relation to the hilarious “iEye” spoof over at Uncyclopedia – “the content-free encyclopedia” – which “describes a bionic visual data management system device produced by Apple Computers” requiring “highly invasive surgery, performed under iAnaesthetic™ by an Apple-approved iSurgeon.” Rather, it’s a totally [un]serious concept for a product that could sustain Apple’s hardware focus and stave off its [almost] inevitable terminal decline.

The iEye is envisaged as Apple’s version of Amazon’s breakout hit, the Alexa speaker. It’s basically a drone-borne hardware front-end for Siri, Apple’s voice command client. Orb-like design preserves that essential Apple elegance and Zen-like simplicity – rather than going for the PowerEgg-style flappycopter approach, iEye hovers on whispering ducted fans. In fact, it’s like a housebroken version of the killer orb in Phantasm – minus the heat-seeking terminal guidance and scything blades. Or think of BB-8 with its head tucked under its … ahem … wing?, borne up by the Force. Or NASA’s Personal Satellite Assistant with added Apple bling. The iEye will float unobtrusively in your living room, keyed to your voice and location, with Siri answering your every command, and settle into a wireless charging perch/nest when day is done. It could even whisper you ebook lullabies in bed at night.

And does Apple need such a product? Holy St. Steve, yes. How else to get back that market-redefining hardware buzz (well, in this case, soft ducted-fan whisper) with a whole new product line? How else to front-end Apple’s push into deeper services provision? How else to snatch back the lead from Amazon in home automation? And above all, how else to get back its hardware mojo?

As Matt Rosoff said in Business Insider: “Apple can’t keep relying on the iPhone forever – it needs a new hit.” And Rostoff may be “not convinced that Apple has the chops to deliver a world-changing online service – it never has.” But a new hardware wheeze? That Apple can do. Can something so spherical have an edge? We’ll see. Or not.

So, Apple, I’m ready any time you want to discuss copyrights and royalties. After all, you need something. Why not me? Meantime, faithful TeleRead readers, be prepared for a drop in my productivity while I wait by the phone for that call from Cupertino …


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