Apple envisions Apple TV remote with fingerprint sensor for custom profiles, child proofing

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2015
A trio of Apple patent filings relating to biometric input devices could reveal plans for a remote control, potentially destined for Apple TV, capable of distinguishing multiple users for association with custom profiles on a second device.


Source: USPTO


Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's three applications are variations (1, 2, 3) on a biometric theme. Each mentions a device capable of collecting biometric information from a user, associating that data to a profile and remotely configuring a second device based on that information.

Apple has filed for numerous inventions touching on biometric-based user profiles, but today's applications are some of the first to incorporate claims intertwining such technology with a remotely controlled device. A television or set-top box is specifically employed as an example application in all three patents. And while Apple is quick to note the TV metaphor is meant only to illustrate its invention, the idea of a fingerprint reading remote control capable of seamlessly switching user preferences is perhaps the filings' most enticing application.

Each document has at its core a device with biometric sensing capabilities sensitive enough to positively identify a user or multiple users. Suitable sensors range from fingerprint scanners and cameras for facial recognition to retinal scanners and algorithms for deciphering voice prints.

Apple describes the biometric device as a dedicated remote control, though the invention also accommodates iPhones, current models of which sport Touch ID hardware. In such cases implementation would likely only require a software update as Apple's Remote iOS app is already capable of connecting with and controlling Apple TV.

In practice, a user interacts with the device in question to activate a profile on a second, remotely controlled device. Depending on sensor positioning, this process can happen naturally without much in the way of user interaction. For example, a fingerprint sensor might be disposed beneath a system power button, meaning the user would need only to pick up the remote and turn their TV on to load a preset configuration.




Along with usual system settings like favorite channels, brightness and contrast, volume controls and others, the invention supports multi-user access to certain functions. As an example, a husband and wife may have different app and channel settings, as well as files that are stored locally but accessed separately. Personalized profiles might also be used to aid in content discovery and per-user purchasing, much like Touch ID and Apple's digital storefronts.

One of the more interesting applications deals with restrictions for children. Current Apple products, including Apple TV, have parental controls built in, but these settings must be toggled on and off with a passcode. By implementing fingerprint sensing, the system could be provisioned to restrict children from watching mature content without express biometric authorization from an adult.

In other examples, of which there are many in today's patent triad, a single user can provision multiple configurations to be accessed with different fingerprints or fingerprint sequences. Multiple users may also hide personal files protected behind their biometric identifier.

As with all Apple patent applications, it remains unclear if the company actually plans to ship a biometric-capable remote or something like it. According to recent rumors, however, Apple is set to launch an all-new remote with built-in touchpad alongside an expected Apple TV hardware refresh, a prime time to introduce Touch ID to the set-top streamer. Exactly when that revision is due is widely debated, though some reports point to a release this fall.

All three patent applications were filed for on the same day in January 2014 and credit Michael DiVincent, Nicole J. Hollopeter and Ruben Caballero as inventors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 524member
    Interesting idea but targeted device have to respond quickly to profile changes otherwise quire expensive remote could quickly penetrate even more expensive screen surface for impatient persons :-)
  • Reply 2 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    frantisek wrote: »
    Interesting idea but targeted device have to respond quickly to profile changes otherwise quire expensive remote could quickly penetrate even more expensive screen surface for impatient persons :-)
    1 second response should be enough to switch profiles in the same way to unlock iOS devices with Touch ID now. The question is that whether it will be compatible with existing ATV or just for new devices.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,923member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post





    1 second response should be enough to switch profiles in the same way to unlock iOS devices with Touch ID now. The question is that whether it will be compatible with existing ATV or just for new devices.

    Why would that even matter? It's an application. Typically, it takes years for the patent to be granted, if at all. Nobody is going to be concerned with the current ATV. Even if they decided to commercialize a product with this feature before the patent was granted, they are not going to be worrying much about backwards compatibility with a $79 device.

  • Reply 4 of 20
    am8449am8449 Posts: 343member

    Sounds like a cool idea. But I've read that many people lose their Apple TV remotes because they are so small. It would be a shame to lose one with a TouchID sensor.

  • Reply 5 of 20
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by am8449 View Post

     

    Sounds like a cool idea. But I've read that many people lose their Apple TV remotes because they are so small. It would be a shame to lose one with a TouchID sensor.


    Newest App:  Where's My Remote?

    (or, just check between the sofa cushions)

  • Reply 6 of 20

    When..?

  • Reply 7 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,367member
    boredumb wrote: »
    Newest App:  Where's My Remote?
    (or, just check between the sofa cushions)

    You never lose them, they are simply somewhere else. They have this built in ability to erase short term memory of whoever was holding it last. I presume this is for some future use Apple hasn't yet revealed. You can overcome this by back tracking through all the places you have been, generally I check bathrooms and near the beer fridge or wine cabinet first.
  • Reply 8 of 20

    One remote to rule them all!

  • Reply 9 of 20
    davendaven Posts: 543member
    Why not use voice analysis to determine the user's identity and privledges? Too unreliable? Worry about recording someone's voice and playing it back?
  • Reply 10 of 20
    jason98jason98 Posts: 764member
    Should have been done for iPad first.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,395member
    No way I'd want this. Just a clean and smartly designed UI for the TV instead.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     

    Why would that even matter? It's an application. Typically, it takes years for the patent to be granted, if at all. Nobody is going to be concerned with the current ATV. Even if they decided to commercialize a product with this feature before the patent was granted, they are not going to be worrying much about backwards compatibility with a $79 device.


    That would be nice to have backward compatible with ATV since Apple sold many of them. I would like my finger print to only loads those apps in my profiles: HBO Go, Sport and Movie Apps. My wife's can load her preferred apps in finance, fitness or whatever. 

  • Reply 13 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

     

    Newest App:  Where's My Remote?

    (or, just check between the sofa cushions)


    What about "Find my remote"? Yeah, load iPhone "Find my iPhone" app and search for the remote by playing sound on it...cool.

  • Reply 14 of 20
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post



    Should have been done for iPad first.

    Buy another iPad, that's what Apple want you to do. iPad's just like iPhone, a personal device. I don't want my iPad loaded with tons of apps used by my wife or my kid or my Continuity or Handoff messed up by another user.

  • Reply 15 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    You never lose them, they are simply somewhere else. They have this built in ability to erase short term memory of whoever was holding it last. I presume this is for some future use Apple hasn't yet revealed. You can overcome this by back tracking through all the places you have been, generally I check bathrooms and near the beer fridge or wine cabinet first.



    Add a button to the ATV that signals the remote to beep when lost. Or remote may be advanced enough to do a find my ATV remote, similar to find my iPhone. Also not sure why paired iPhone or iPad cant use its Touch ID for this?

     

    Lastly the patent pic of remote looks like a door bell...lol.

  • Reply 16 of 20
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DaveN View Post



    Why not use voice analysis to determine the user's identity and privledges? Too unreliable? Worry about recording someone's voice and playing it back?

    Except...just think how many people could use Christopher Walken's remote ;)

  • Reply 17 of 20
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DaveN View Post



    Why not use voice analysis to determine the user's identity and [privileges]?...

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ...at its core a device with biometric sensing capabilities sensitive enough to positively identify a user or multiple users. Suitable sensors range from fingerprint scanners and cameras for facial recognition to retinal scanners and algorithms for deciphering voice prints....

     

    If you read it carefully (took me longer to go back and find it than it should have) the article does state 4 different biometrics, the last being "voice analysis". Apple has used voice recognition on some devices since the late 80's -- I never found it too practical for my use.

     

    I would like to see the option of using biometrics in two-factor authentication (even if it is only one of the two) since the req'd hdwr. is becoming more common place. That might help put a stick in the spokes of the AJ and other law enforcement / intelligence types as far as getting into my computerized data.

  • Reply 18 of 20
    davendaven Posts: 543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

     

     

     

     

    If you read it carefully (took me longer to go back and find it than it should have) the article does state 4 different biometrics, the last being "voice analysis". Apple has used voice recognition on some devices since the late 80's -- I never found it too practical for my use.

     

    I would like to see the option of using biometrics in two-factor authentication (even if it is only one of the two) since the req'd hdwr. is becoming more common place. That might help put a stick in the spokes of the AJ and other law enforcement / intelligence types as far as getting into my computerized data.


     

    Good catch. I missed that part. I could see it being administrator selectable. Voice analysis for low risk homes (i.e. no teenage kids) and finger print analysis for homes with sensitive data and curious kids.

  • Reply 19 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post



    Should have been done for iPad first.

     

    Well, it could still happen that way as this is a patent not an announcement. ;) For awhile I wanted this feature but over the years my family has just settled into their own devices. Things may change if there is an iPad Pro in the family and I _would_ like a feature like this for that. Multiple profiles would be very nice for even just casual sharing of devices and a few key apps.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    No way I'd want this. Just a clean and smartly designed UI for the TV instead.

    But that's exactly what this is. A way to make a cleaner more smartly designed UI for the person using the device. Instead of littered with what other people that use it are interested in it shows exactly what you want right away.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    What about "Find my remote"? Yeah, load iPhone "Find my iPhone" app and search for the remote by playing sound on it...cool.


    This is a no-brainer to me but it _does_ require the remote to now have receiving not just transmitting function. Depending on what else it does this might be easy to tack on. 

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