New Apple Patents Suggest Future Apple TV Remote Control Might Sport Fingerprint Sensor: Here's Why


Three intriguing Apple patent filings suggest the company is working on a special Apple TV remote control with a fingerprint scanner.

Apple is always working on new technology and filing all sorts of patents, hinting at future devices and applications. Some exciting new patent filings just came to light now, involving a remote control able to read biometric data and use it with a second device.

More specifically, Apple filed a trio of patents that relate to biometric input devices and indicate that Apple plans to develop a high-end remote control with a fingerprint reader. The gadget would be capable of identifying multiple users and associate their fingerprints with custom profiles on a compatible device, likely an Apple TV.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the three Apple patent applications on Thursday, July 23. All patents revolve around a biometric scheme and all refer to a device that would collect biometric information from a user, associate the information to a profile and configure another device remotely, based on this data.

This is not the first time Apple patent applications relate to user profiles based on biometric information, but so far none of the applications included claims describing how such technology could work with a remotely controlled device.

Moreover, all three of these new patents specifically mention a TV or set-top box as an example application for the functionality. Apple points out that the TV example is merely used to illustrate the potential of its invention, but it would make sense to use this fingerprint scanner-equipped remote control with an Apple TV.

Automatically connecting a user's fingerprint on the remote control with their Apple TV user preferences and profile would be a great application of the technology, and would surely raise plenty of interest among consumers.

Nevertheless, Apple doesn't specify which device will work with this biometric-sensing remote control. The company does, however, note a range of potential biometric sensors.

"An electronic device receives data associated with at least one biometric detected by a sensor of a remote control device. The biometric may be at least one fingerprint, retinal scan, facial image, and/or any other biometric," reads a description of how multiple users could enjoy device configuration based on biometrics.

"A profile for a user associated with the data is determined out of a number of possible profiles based on the data. The electronic device is then configured in one or more ways according to the determined user profile. Such configuration may include any way that the electronic device may be personalized and/or otherwise altered. In this way, an electronic device may provide a personalized experience for a number of different users without burdening and/or annoying the respective users."

The possibility of accessing your customized profile by using a biometric-sensing remote control with a TV sounds exciting. Spouses would be able to access their preferred content, for instance, without any additional steps other than using the remote control. At the same time, biometric sensors could also come in handy in regards to parental controls. The Apple TV could restrict access to mature content, for example, as soon as it detects the biometric information associated with a kid's profile.

This intriguing remote control has many potential applications and they all sound exciting, but it remains to be seen just what Apple has planned for this device.

On the other hand, latest rumors have indicated that Apple plans to launch a refreshed Apple TV this year, alongside a brand new remote with an integrated touchpad. The remote control detailed in these patents could be it.

Either way, one thing's for sure: Apple plans to launch a smart remote control that leverages biometric readings for authentication and customization, and it will be interesting to see the gadget's applications when it sees the light of day.

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