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Apple exploring Magic Wand controller for next-gen Apple TV

post #1 of 50
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Apple is exploring the possibility of including a wireless "remote wand" with future versions of its Apple TV media system that would provide users with precise control over a cursor on the Apple TV screen in very much the same way a conventional mouse controls a cursor on a PC. It would also unlock three-dimensional controls similar to those offered by Nintendo's Wii controller.

The wand, which was revealed in a patent filing published for the first time this week, would control the movement of a cursor displayed on a TV screen by the position and orientation at which it is held by the user. As the user moves the wand, the on-screen cursor would follow.

Unlike the current 5-button remote shipping with the current version of Apple TV, the wand would be capable of controlling a plurality of new operations and applications that may be available from the media system, including for example zoom operations, a keyboard application, an image application, an illustration application, and a media application.

According to Apple, the Apple TV media system could identify the movements of the wand using any suitable motion detection component such as an embedded accelerometer or a gyroscope. Another approach for identifying the movements of the wand would be to determine its absolute position relative to one or more infrared modules positioned adjacent to the screen in the living room.

"The wand may include an optical component for capturing images of the infrared modules, and may calculate its orientation and distance from the modules based on the captured images," the company said. "In some embodiments, the electronic device may direct the infrared modules to identify the position of an infrared emitter incorporated on the wand, and may calculate the absolute position of the wand relative to the infrared modules."

By incorporating the wand controller into future Apple TVs, Apple would unlock a tremendous amount of capability in its set-top-box interface while blurring the lines between a conventional PC and a media system. In one example, the company shows how pressing the remote's menu button would trigger a Dock to rise from the bottom of the Apple TV screen, which users could then navigate by moving the wand from left to right.



The wand could also incorporate several new selection techniques that would reduce dependency on physical buttons such as the menu/select button on the current Apple remote.

"In some embodiments, the user may provide a selection input by moving wand in a particular manner," Apple said. "For example, the user may flick wand (e.g., move wand in circular pattern), rotate wand in a particular manner (e.g., perform a rotation of wand), move wand a particular distance off screen, or any other suitable movement of wand."



When it comes to navigating album art or other media presented in CoverFlow mode, the user could draw a circular pattern on the screen to cause the CoverFlow carousel to rotate, displaying different selectable options. Wand movements could also direct the carousel to turn in a particular direction based on the direction in which it's rotated.

When inside Apple TV's photo application, similar movements would allow the user to navigate large sets of thumbnails and make selections. However, a more powerful aspect may the ability of the wand to zoom in and out of images based on its proximity to the screen.

"To zoom out, the user may move wand away from screen such that the distance between wand and screen may be larger than the initial distance between wand and [the] screen," Apple explained. "The larger distance between wand and screen may be depicted by the position of wand relative [to its] origin. [...] In some embodiments, the user may provide an input in the z-direction (e.g., to zoom out) by providing an appropriate input with an input mechanism without moving wand. For example, the user may roll a scroll wheel, provide an input on a touchpad, or move a joystick to provide an input in the z-direction and zoom out the image of [the] screen."



Rotating the wand could also serve to rotate and skew images on the screen:



Another advantage of the wand would be its ability to trigger a keyboard application from within any of Apple TV's core applications and provide swifter input. Instead of navigating the keyboard with left, right, up, and down arrows, the "user may select a character on the displayed line by pointing wand at a particular character to place cursor over the character," Apple said. "To access other characters not displayed on a particular line, the user may select one of [the] arrows to scroll [a] line to the left or to the right. In some embodiments, the user may simply place cursor at the left or right edge of the screen to scroll [a] line."



Apple goes on in the massive 64-page filing to describe methods for using the wand to control media scrubber bars, jump around the Apple TV interface, and serve as a digital pen for an illustration application.



The May 2008 filing is credited to Apple employees Duncan Kerr and Nicholas King.

In January acting chief executive Tim Cook said, "We will continue to invest [in Apple TV], because we believe there is something there for us in the future." Cook's comments were in the context of the news that unit sales were up over three times year-over-year. He still cautioned Apple is considering the device a hobby, as Steve Jobs has often said since its release.

Apple released a new version of the Apple TV software late last month.
post #2 of 50
How is it possible that the article makes no mention of Nintendo Wii and Wiimote?

Edit: !!! AI ninja edited the article. No fair.
post #3 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple is exploring the possibility of including a wireless "remote wand" with future versions of its Apple TV media system that would provide users with precise control over a cursor on the Apple TV screen in very much the same way a conventual mouse controls a cursor on a PC.

Wii!!!!! (This sounds cool! It would be a great way to control games if they ever wanted to add games to the Apple TV.)
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post #4 of 50
Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.
post #5 of 50
First there was "Apple TV"
Then came "Apple TV Take Two"
Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"
post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

First there was "Apple TV"
Then came "Apple TV Take Two"
Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"



Utterly funny!
post #7 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Animaniac View Post

How is it possible that the article makes no mention of Nintendo Wii and Wiimote?

or the Mobile Air Mouse App (which is amazing and well worth the price).
post #8 of 50
Hell yes. Always wanted to be able to control my TV/computer with a Wiimote. I imagine if Apple made an actual TV this is what they'd do, regular TV remotes are too slow and horrible to use for anything other than changing the channel/volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

First there was "Apple TV"
Then came "Apple TV Take Two"
Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"

I can't believe I laughed at that.
post #9 of 50
Any improvement over the horrible UI AppleTV uses now would be a blessing. I don't use the AppleTV as much as I would like simply because that interface is so clunky!

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post #10 of 50
Oh and by the way...


Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!

TechnoMinds

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post #11 of 50
Couldn't they allow an iphone or ipod touch do this right now, not only for appletv but also for imacs, etc ?
post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

First there was "Apple TV"
Then came "Apple TV Take Two"
Coming Soon "Apple TV Take Twii"

You always brighten things up here.
BTW - that U2 sale at Amazon must have been only for that day- it's back up to $8.99.
But I did notice a lot of other really good MP3 deals- so thanks for the heads up.
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by grisman View Post

Couldn't they allow an iphone or ipod touch do this right now, not only for appletv but also for imacs, etc ?

MOBILE AIR MOUSE app- excellent for any Mac, available right now.
ATV is closed so I doubt it will ever work for ATV.
post #14 of 50
My predictions of what will happen when certain posters notice the Safari icon in the filing. In order...

1) Get excited momentarily about the prospects.
2) Write that you thought of the idea before Apple.
3) Lambast Apple for not including a browser with the original AppleTV.

Dare to prove me wrong by not whining.
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post #15 of 50
Ugh, the Wiimote is difficult enough - that's why the buttons are so large on the Wii interface.

Using it for an on-screen keyboard is just painful.

However compared to nothing or a more basic remote control ...
post #16 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

My predictions of what will happen when certain posters notice the Safari icon in the filing. In order...[index]1) Get excited momentarily about the prospects.
2) Write that you thought of the idea before Apple.
3) Lambast Apple for not including a browser with the original AppleTV.[/index]

?? That's not like you lately.

Frankly- I didn't even notice it until now.
Is there anything wrong with wanting Safari on our AppleTV? I won't even hold it against Apple for continually denying that I need it. If we get it- great- it would save me $$ on a MacMini right now.

You must be pretty happy that you got the voice on the shuffle that you asked for - right? Same thing for us with Safari on the ATV, if we get it.

BTW-Did you want voice on the shuffle or just iPods in general?
P.S. Notice how we never accused you of whining even though you asked for something that Apple wasn't giving you.
post #17 of 50
Selecting characters for text entry would be a pain in the ass.

Hopefully, they left you use a bluetooth keyboard also.

I'm gladding they are working on the Apple TV.

Please add Safari and Hulu!
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.

This is just a patent filing. The result will probably be very different and there is no reason to suspect that Apple would remove the other input methods for text if they were to include a Wii-like motion.


Quote:
Originally Posted by techno View Post

Any improvement over the horrible UI AppleTV uses now would be a blessing. I don't use the AppleTV as much as I would like simply because that interface is so clunky!

I don't find the UI clunky in how it navigates, but the time from remote control input to on-screen execution is too long. Using Nvidia's Ion chipset with Snow Leopard for the AppleTV OS may rectify that.
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post #19 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Ugh, the Wiimote is difficult enough - that's why the buttons are so large on the Wii interface.

Using it for an on-screen keyboard is just painful.

However compared to nothing or a more basic remote control ...

This seems like a pretty lame idea to me too. Esp. the contention that this would improve the use of the onscreen keyboard.

The onscreen keyboard is a clunky solution itself, but controlling the cursor from ten or twenty feet away by precision pointing of a handheld remote is kind of like assuming that we are all gunslingers. People are supposed to "shoot from the hip" and hit a one inch wide target from 10 feet? Most folks don't have that kind of hand-eye coordination and hitting a series of up-down-left-right keys on a remote (the current method) would be way more efficient IMO.

This only makes sense as a way to move a cursor or manipulate virtual objects which basically means WebTV type stuff or games. Whether or not we will be using our TVs for that kind of stuff in any big way is still up in the air at this point, and games work better either with a dedicated controller or an iPhone as a controller.

WebTV is a twenty year old idea at this point that hasn't caught on yet.
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post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

My predictions of what will happen when certain posters notice the Safari icon in the filing. In order...

1) Get excited momentarily about the prospects.
2) Write that you thought of the idea before Apple.
3) Lambast Apple for not including a browser with the original AppleTV.

Dare to prove me wrong by not whining.

There is an App Store/apps icon as well. It would be interesting to see those icons description in the original filling. Too bad AI did not provide the patent number.
post #21 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

There is an App Store/apps icon as well.

For what?
post #22 of 50
[QUOTE=solipsism;1389257]This is just a patent filing. The result will probably be very different and there is no reason to suspect that Apple would remove the other input methods for text if they were to include a Wii-like motion.
I would like to think so but seeing their new shuffle makes me think twice!
post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

Selecting characters for text entry would be a pain in the ass.

Hopefully, they left you use a bluetooth keyboard also.

I'm gladding they are working on the Apple TV.

Please add Safari and Hulu!

Actually, scratch the bluetooth keyboard. We just need a dedicated touchscreen remote.
It's great that the touch and iphone can be used, but if it's connected to my Tv, I need a dedicated remote.
post #24 of 50
Apple sure spends a lot of time on the ancillary items.

The raison d'etre of the Apple TV is media playback. I don't want gyro features in the remote because they won't translate into something like a Harmony controller.

I've got to question why Apple would spend money in a way that I feel is frivolous yet the Apple TV cannot playback 1080p high complexity video.

I hope the remote is optional if offered. .
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post #25 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

...I need a dedicated remote.

How funny would it be if the mystery device with the 10" screen turned out to be just that?
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post #26 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.

Yeah, no good for a virtual keyboard. Then again, the current keyboard isn't much good either.

Other than that, I do think that this form of movement could significantly simplify navigation of the AppleTV. It could do some great things, and would align with some of the rules we learn from the iPhone (eg: to scroll down a list, touch the remote select button and flick downwards)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

Please add Safari and Hulu!

I don't want to see them add Hulu. They can go a step better.

Take a Hulu TV show and give it away on the iTunes store - but add the same commercials as seen on Hulu (and prevent ad-skipping, like Hulu). Same goes for any network.

edit: Come on Disney/ABC - lead the way. Make your content available FTD ("free to download") with ads customised specifically to the viewer - so we can't skip the ads, but there aren't many ads, they're of interest, and they link to more information if requested.
post #27 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I've got to question why Apple would spend money in a way that I feel is frivolous yet the Apple TV cannot playback 1080p high complexity video.

Yes, they have to add 1080p playback asap. Not for downloads, they can still be 720p - but to prepare for future needs and current home movie cameras.

As for the wand - I don't see it as frivolous at all. The current form of remote controls are the equivalent of a computer that uses arrow keys instead of a mouse to select content. Of course if that means you can't use a universal remote that's a great pity, no matter how much better the Apple remote is.

It would be amazing if they translated that kind of remote "wand" control to also control other devices in our entertainment system - but for that all content would have to be channeled through the AppleTV before it reached the screen (or be built into the screen), and the AppleTV would need an IR extender. A really different ball game.
post #28 of 50
I can't see running MacOS X with a wand remote (done it - you can get a driver for the Wii Remote and use it on your Mac - it is a bit painful), but it would make a fantastic Front Row/Apple TV interface device, wouldn't it?
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post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by techno View Post

Any improvement over the horrible UI AppleTV uses now would be a blessing. I don't use the AppleTV as much as I would like simply because that interface is so clunky!

Agreed fix that first, forget the wand , and put my files at the top of each list.
post #30 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.

Agreed. It has always baffled me that Apple can be so bone headed about the AppleTV remote. They have the perfect interface sitting right in front of them: THE FREAKING CLICKWHEEL. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to throw my remote at my tivo because navigating menus is so damn slow, and entering text as well.

A clickwheel remote would address all of this/ ( of course entering text would still be more desirable via a keyboard, but I'm willing to accept this limitation since the click wheel would be 100 times faster than current methods )
post #31 of 50
They get a lot more Apple TV users using their wands if they'd start offering adult videos on iTunes.
post #32 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Please God, no! Have you ever tried to use a Wiimote as a cursor? It's a terrible experience.

Agreed. Creating a user profile on the Wii all via the WiiMote was probably the most maddening experience I've ever had with an electronic device.
post #33 of 50
Apple + Nintendo = god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #34 of 50
So, 3 diodes on the front of the ATV?
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post #35 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Animaniac View Post

How is it possible that the article makes no mention of Nintendo Wii and Wiimote?

Speaking of which, how does this not conflict with patents on the Wii remote?
post #36 of 50
Once the market for media extenders finally get properly formed how do think the AppleTV will change to become Apple's fouth leg?


Quote:
Originally Posted by LemCen View Post

Apple + Nintendo = god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nintendo + Apple = Nipple

Apple + Nintendo = Appendo

Typically, you have to round up to infinity to equal God.
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post #37 of 50
I hate the twitchy IR cursor on the Wii. It does the job, but annoys me. I'd prefer accelerometer control... except X-motion would logically be done by angling around the vertical axis, and that's the one kind of rotation an accelerometer can't detect. So... maybe multiple accelerometers at the two ends?
post #38 of 50
No way they'd be able to bring this to market in that form. Nintendo brought theirs to market and faced a shitstorm of lawsuits over the tech in it. I imagine everyone that sued nintendo+nintendo themselves would jump down apple's throat over this.
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post #39 of 50
How did you miss the "mention" in the first paragraph??!! And I quote...

"It would also unlock three-dimensional controls similar to those offered by Nintendo's Wii controller. "


Quote:
Originally Posted by Animaniac View Post

How is it possible that the article makes no mention of Nintendo Wii and Wiimote?
post #40 of 50
Didn't Windows develope something like this a few years ago? They mentioned it as part of their innovative thinking. It was used to control more than just a TV, but for the TV it worked the same.

It also controlled lights and stereos and such.
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