Apple job listings suggest cameras coming to Apple TV, hinting at motion controls

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited March 2014
The Apple TV is one of the few products in Apple's lineup that doesn't include an integrated camera, but that may change with future versions of the hardware, according to new job listings from the company, potentially paving the way for gesture-based motion controls in the living room.


Camera-equipped Apple TV concept via Brightcove.


Mentions of camera support for Apple TV were discovered this week by AppleInsider in a handful of advertised available positions for Apple's Camera Software team. The listings reveal that the team builds capture and camera foundation across "all of Apple's innovative products," and goes on to include the currently camera-less Apple TV alongside camera-equipped devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Job titles include Camera Algorithms Developer, Camera Tuning Framework Engineer, Media System Performance Engineer. Qualified candidates must have experience working with camera capture frameworks.

Though Apple TV doesn't currently have a camera, Apple's purchase of PrimeSense has hinted to some that camera-driven motion controls could be in its future.Beyond Apple TV, the listings also make note that the Camera Software team works with platforms like OS X, which drives camera-equipped Mac hardware, as well as iTunes. While the inclusion of the latter may seem odd, Apple's iTunes software for both Mac and iOS features camera integration, allowing users to easily scan gift cards and for redemption on the company's digital storefronts.

Other recently advertised positions, such as an opening for a Camera Engineering Product Manager, make mention of iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod, but do not include the Apple TV. Among recently advertised positions, only some make note of supposed Apple TV support.

While it's possible the mention of Apple TV for camera-related positions could just be boilerplate text for a job vacancy, there is a large amount of evidence that Apple is planning to improve upon its existing set-top box business, potentially with new hardware that could add camera-driven motion controls.

Perhaps most notable is the company's late 2013 acquisition of PrimeSense, an Israeli 3D sensor firm that was responsible for the technology behind Microsoft's first-generation Kinect motion controls for Xbox 360. Apple is said to have paid about $360 million in the deal.

In addition, PrimeSense's technology has also been used by Matterport's 3D full-color 3D scanner, as well as iRobot's Ava healthcare robot. In both cases, the firm's sensors are utilized to create a visual model of its environment, to be used by hardware in unique ways like navigation and human interaction.

Apple TV


Given the potential uses for PrimeSense, observers have speculated that the company's technology will power gesture controls on future HDTV-related products from Apple, whether they are in a new set-top box or a full-fledged television set.

The PrimeSense purchase followed a series of rumors in 2013 that suggested Apple is working on a new Apple TV model with enhanced control functionality. Specifically, one report said that although Apple had dabbled with voice controls for a new HDTV accessory, those plans had gone "out the window," in favor of "some new way to interact."

And in recent weeks, there have been numerous reports that an Apple TV update may be unveiled in the coming months. According to Bloomberg, the device could be unveiled as soon as April, but may not launch until this fall. A months-long wait between introduction and launch would likely mean a major shift for the platform, and potentially new opportunities for developers to create software.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    All I personally want for Apple TV is a better and Bluetooth standard bundled Apple remote. The last thing I need is a camera, motion controls (with a likely added expense, too). And if they want to add games and an App Store it'll need larger storage size options with an Apple-designed games-specific hardware games controller. Because relying on a software app or third party to build your hardware games controller for your "now-it's-a-games-console" would be ridiculous!

    As for me, like I said, I just want an improved remote with perhaps two additional function buttons, a little bit of bulk for battery and comfort and Bluetooth technology to get around my coffee table. And people don't tell me the existing remote works fine for you. You don't blame the user. When was the last time my Playstation remote didn't recognise a remote input? Oh, that's right, never.
  • Reply 2 of 55
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Why would it need to be so stupidly wide?

     

    At least we’ve moved past the “integrated television” nonsense.

  • Reply 3 of 55
    dcgoodcgoo Posts: 213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    All I personally want for Apple TV is a better and Bluetooth standard bundled Apple remote. The last thing I need is a camera, motion controls (with a likely added expense, too). 


    I just want an improved remote with perhaps two additional function buttons, a little bit of bulk for battery and comfort and Bluetooth technology to get around my coffee table. 

     

    An actual TV receiver would be kinda nice too.  

  • Reply 4 of 55
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    Why would it need to be so stupidly wide?

    At least we’ve moved past the “integrated television” nonsense.

    The only reason Apple can't do an integrated TV - which I'd personally love - is they cannot control the content. I think Apple should buy up the rights to all sports worldwide, they should produce their own shows ala Netflix and they should provide an alternative to Netflix monthly streaming via a monthly subscription. If they could do all that a reasonably monthly fee perhaps they could find a way to subsidise a large TV and provide the ultimate integrated experience. 'Cause the day I can get a true out-of-the-box-Apple-experience with one single product and remote in my living room controlling it all wirelessly is the day I can die a happy man.

    Throw in magnetically-charged remote that you can stick to the top of the TV that intelligently charges only when the battery is low, and while the TV is in sleep mode and I've died and gone to heaven.
  • Reply 5 of 55
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

    The only reason Apple can't do an integrated TV - which I'd personally love - is they cannot control the content.

     

    Of course they can! It’s why they haven’t put a TV tuner in the Apple TV yet, and it’s why they never will. They literally DO control the content.

     

    I think Apple should buy up the rights to all sports worldwide, they should produce their own shows ala Netflix and they should provide an alternative to Netflix monthly streaming via a monthly subscription.


     

    Hmm. Wait, Netflix produces its own shows? I’d at least like Apple to contract individually with each channel. None of this “you MUST have all of our package channels” nonsense.

  • Reply 6 of 55
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    dcgoo wrote: »
    An actual TV receiver would be kinda nice too.  

    I don't know what that is.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Oh great, yet another way for the FBI, NSA, and various sex perverts to spy on us. I actually consider it a feature of my Mac mini that it doesn't have a camera or mike.

    Of course, I guess we can fix that camera with a bit of black electrical tape. It'd be better, though, if Apple would add a sliding cover in front of the lens.

    That said, I do hope the new Apple TV brings major changes. It'll justify my waiting.
  • Reply 8 of 55
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,383member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post





    I don't know what that is.


     

    I think he means an ATSC tuner (a.k.a. ATSC receiver). You know, some circuitry to decode terrestrial broadcast transmissions via an Over-The-Air antenna (a.k.a. "rabbit ears").

     

    For more information, please see this Wikipedia article on ATSC receiver.

  • Reply 9 of 55
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    Of course they can! It’s why they haven’t put a TV tuner in the Apple TV yet, and it’s why they never will. They literally DO control the content.

    Who controls HBO? Apple?

    NFL?
    NBA?
    NHL?
    Sky Sports?
    Not to mention all the shows Apple TV doesn't have.

    Interesting world you live in.
  • Reply 10 of 55
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    mpantone wrote: »
    I think he means an ATSC tuner. You know, some circuitry to decode terrestrial broadcast transmissions via an OTA antenna (a.k.a. "rabbit ears").

    Oh, they aren't really used in Europe. It's all dishes here.
  • Reply 11 of 55
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member
    Adding a camera is a good idea for gestures and FaceTime.

    A better addition would be original content. Netflix has great shows. Amazon has great original shows. Hulu is adding original content. Their brands give you content nobody else delivers at that time.

    If Apple opens up Apple TV to apps, then they solve this problem. Apps are content.

    Gotta make Apple TV able to do stuff no other gizmo or platform can do today.
  • Reply 12 of 55
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    inkling wrote: »
    Oh great, yet another way for the FBI, NSA, and various sex perverts to spy on us.

    Various sex perverts?
  • Reply 13 of 55
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,383member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post





    Oh, they aren't really used in Europe. It's all dishes here.


     

    At least in the USA, if you live pretty close to a metropolitan area, you can use a set-top or roof antenna to receive local digital TV broadcasts from terrestrial TV towers.

     

    As far as I can tell, here in the States, dishes are only used for satellite TV which incurs a monthly subscription cost, and typically requires specialized equipment.

     

    OTA broadcasts are free, albeit the selection of programming is rather limited compared to cable or satellite TV.

     

    If I understand correctly, the antenna shape is tailored to the signal type, so the fact that Europe uses dishes for terrestrial TV reception is unusual.

     

    Here in the States, the ATSC digital TV broadcasts are sent over the same frequencies (VHF and UHF) as the defunct analog TV signals they replaced, so the ATSC antenna configuration is very similar. Many people were able to continue using their old antennae when US stations switched from analog to digital.

     

    The classic set-top dipole "rabbit ear" antennae were optimized for VHF frequencies which the major broadcasters used during the analog days; a lattice, loop, or grid-like configuration was better for UHF frequencies which were used more by minor broadcasters.

  • Reply 14 of 55
    gerritgerrit Posts: 28member

    Apple may have bought PrimeSense, but I'd still wager that is for camera technology (ie. depth sensing) for the iPhone. Duplicating the functionality of the Xbox One doesn't seem right. The market isn't exactly embracing it and the technology has a good number of problems (raise a fork while eating and your tv changes a channel).

     

    I think this probably just indicates they're bringing FaceTime to the Apple TV. Well, I'd say that's a given now, so I guess the question is if they're doing that *and* adding a new motion interface.

  • Reply 15 of 55
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 504member
    ireland wrote: »
    All I personally want for Apple TV is a better and Bluetooth standard bundled Apple remote. The last thing I need is a camera, motion controls (with a likely added expense, too). And if they want to add games and an App Store it'll need larger storage size options with an Apple-designed games-specific hardware games controller. Because relying on a software app or third party to build your hardware games controller for your "now-it's-a-games-console" would be ridiculous!

    As for me, like I said, I just want an improved remote with perhaps two additional function buttons, a little bit of bulk for battery and comfort and Bluetooth technology to get around my coffee table. And people don't tell me the existing remote works fine for you. You don't blame the user. When was the last time my Playstation remote didn't recognise a remote input? Oh, that's right, never.

    Just make a nice remote App for my phone to navigate ATV - that's all I need.
  • Reply 16 of 55
    Why would it need to be so stupidly wide?

    At least we’ve moved past the “integrated television” nonsense.

    The width provides a camera with a wider field of view and more accurate 3D sensing. Presumably, the 3D sensing would be used [in the AppleTV] to recognize gestures ala the XBox's Kinect.
  • Reply 17 of 55
    mj webmj web Posts: 918member
    The camera focus is for wearables and the iWatch. ;)
  • Reply 18 of 55
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,616member
    From 9to5:

    "First, this is nothing new. Apple has used the exact same wording in job ads at least as long ago as last September.

    Second, this is an ad for a software, not hardware, role. Not a single one of the hardware team ads mentions Apple TV. The software team likely works on everything photo-related, which on Apple TV would include Photo Stream and Airplay.

    Third, you’ll note that the standard wording used includes iTunes. Again, because iTunes needs software support for the camera to read gift certificates. Or perhaps iTunes is getting its own hardware camera too …

    None of this is to say it’s impossible (though it would perhaps be more likely for a full-on Apple television rather than the existing Apple TV box), merely that the job listings tell us nothing."
  • Reply 19 of 55
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    Why would it need to be so stupidly wide?

    There's nothing to reference it with to get a idea how wide it actually is.
  • Reply 20 of 55
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    The width provides a camera with a wider field of view and more accurate 3D sensing. Presumably, the 3D sensing would be used [in the AppleTV] to recognize gestures ala the XBox's Kinect.

    If I'm not mistaken there's more than one camera for depth perception. Unless they use infrared to determine distance.
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