Samsung could be joining the smart assistant-powered speakers market in the future. The tech giant headquartered in Seoul, South Korea has recently been awarded a design patent for a mysterious “audio device,” and it won’t come as a surprise if this would turn out to be another Amazon Echo rival. 

Last Tuesday, Patently Mobile learned that Samsung was granted two design patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. While one is for a new “Note”-branded smartphone, another is for a digital assistant device that could be the tech giant’s response to the successful Amazon Echo and the similar devices that have been popping up on the market recently.

When Samsung introduced Bixby alongside the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in late March, it mentioned its plan of making the digital assistant available to a range of devices including smart home appliances, connected devices and possibly other gadgets that have yet to be introduced to the public. It did not give a hint on whether Bixby would also come to a standalone speaker device, but this is something that’s inevitable considering that Amazon’s Alexa on the Echo line of speakers has gained a lot of attention and other companies have been trying to mimic Amazon’s success with its smart speakers. 

READ: Microsoft’s Amazon Echo-like speaker will have MS-Word integration

Samsung’s design patent doesn’t reveal much about the audio device. After all, this type of patent just contain graphics, so major details on the parts, components and how this device would function are still unknown, as pointed out by SamMobile. What’s interesting though is the appearance of the device in the design patent is quite different from the smart speakers that are available on the market at present. It pretty much looks like a small display device with a stand — like a square monitor of some sort. To see the design, click here

There’s no official word on Samsung’s plan of launching a standalone smart speaker. Hopefully, we’ll get more info about the device in the coming months. However, it’s not uncommon for patented devices to not end up seeing the light of the day. So it is very possible for Samsung to scrap this audio device. It’s a shame though if it does give up on building a smart assistant-powered speaker, knowing that other companies are becoming big players in this new market. 

Just recently, Amazon introduced its newest addition to its Echo line of speakers called Echo Show. The smart device features a built-in screen that definitely adds more functionality to the new device compared to the standard Echo speakers. The screen is great for watching flash briefings, YouTube clips and live feed from security cameras. It also displays photos, weather forecasts, shopping lists and so much more. And just like the other Echo speakers, this one also controls smart home appliances. 

READ: Apple’s Phil Schiller reacts to Amazon Echo, Google Home

Meanwhile, Apple is also reportedly preparing its own smart speaker, which will obviously be powered by the Cupertino giant’s famous voice assistant, Siri. Based on what Marketing chief Phil Schiller said in a recent interview, Apple’s smart speaker could come with a screen just like the Echo Show. Apparently, Schiller emphasized the advantages and importance of having a screen on a device during the interview. Nonetheless, there’s no official word on Apple’s speaker as of late, so anything is possible at this point.