On May 10, 2012 the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to Apple TV. More specifically, Apple's patent is about making Apple TV more accessible to those with disabilities. Additionally, new Nike + iPod patents have surfaced today from both Apple and Nike that claim that they've made improvements to the system while one last entry today briefly touches on new location based technology relating to beacon-based Geofencing.
Apple's Patent Background
A digital media receiver (DMR) is a home entertainment device that can connect to a home network to retrieve digital media files (e.g., music, pictures and video) from a personal computer or other networked media server and play them back on a home theater system or television. Users can access the content stores directly through the DMR to rent movies and TV shows and stream audio and video podcasts. A DMV also allows a user to sync or stream photos, music and videos from their personal computer and to maintain a central home media library.
Despite the availability of large high definition television screens and computer monitors, visually impaired users may find it difficult to track a cursor on the screen while navigating with a remote control device. Visual enhancement of on screen information may not be helpful for screens with high density content or where some content is not navigable by the remote control device.
Apple TV for the Disabled
Apple's invention and solution relates to a system and method that uses screen reader-like functionality to speak information presented on a graphical user interface displayed by a media presentation system, including information that is not navigable by a remote control device. The Digital Media Receiver or media presentation system is in fact Apple TV.
Apple states that information can be spoken in an order that follows the relative importance of the information based on a characteristic of the information or the location of the information within the graphical user interface. A history of previously spoken information is monitored to avoid speaking information more than once for a given graphical user interface. A different pitch can be used to speak information based on a characteristic of the information. In one aspect, information that is not navigable by the remote control device is spoken after a time delay. Voice prompts can be provided for a remote-driven virtual keyboard displayed by Apple TV. The voice prompts can be spoken with different voice pitches. Whether Apple will use Siri in a future iteration is unknown at this time.
In some implementations, a graphical user interface is caused to be displayed on Apple TV. Navigable and non-navigable information are identified on the graphical user interface. The navigable and non-navigable information are converted into speech. The speech is output in an order that follows the relative importance of the converted information based on a characteristic of the information or a location of the information within the graphical user interface.
In some implementations, a virtual keyboard is caused to be displayed on Apple TV. An input is received from a remote control device selecting a key of the virtual keyboard. Speech corresponding to the selected key is outputted. The media presentation system can also cause to be displayed an input field. The current content of the input field can be spoken each time a new key is selected entering a character, number, symbol or command in the input field, allowing a user to detect errors in the input field.
Information within a graphical user interface displayed on a media presentation system is spoken according to its relative importance to other information within the graphical user interface, thereby orientating a vision impaired user navigating the graphical user interface. Non-navigable information is spoken after a delay to allow the user to hear the information without having to focus a cursor or other pointing device on each portion of the graphical user interface where there is information. A remote-driven virtual keyboard provides voice prompts to allow a vision impaired user to interact with the keyboard and to manage contents of an input field displayed with the virtual keyboard.
Apple's patent application was originally filed in Q4 2010 by inventors Christopher Fleizach, Reginald Hudson and Eric Seymour.
Apple, Nike Fitness Patents Relating to Nike + iPod
Apple has filed another Nike + iPod related patent today that somewhat resembles a granted patent that they received in December of 2011. However, Apple states that there are "Improved techniques and systems for utilizing a portable electronic device to monitor, process, present and manage data captured by a remote sensor during a physical activity session are disclosed."
While Apple's patent figures don't illustrate anything that consumers would notice as being improvements, I'm sure that there are a series of internal improvements for those willing to study this patent line by line. If you're one of those willing to investigate this further, then check out patent application 20120116684.
Noteworthy is the fact that Nike has filed a new patent application today titled "Monitoring Fitness using a Mobile Device." Some of their patent figures seem to be new user interfaces, at least from the last time that I used the Nike + iPod product. For those of you wishing to investigate this further, check out patent application 20120116550.
One Last Notable Patent Application
One last notable patent application published today is titled "Beacon-Based Geofencing" which generally relates to location-based processing on a mobile device.
Apple's Patent Abstract: A mobile device can monitor a current location using a multi-tier approach. A baseband subsystem can monitor a coarse location of the mobile device using various course location parameters, such as a mobile country code (MCC), a location area code (LAC), or a cell identifier (cell ID), as the mobile device moves closer to the geographic region. Upon determining that the mobile device is in a cell that intersects the geographic region, the baseband subsystem can transfer the monitoring to the application subsystem. The task can be performed when the application subsystem determines that the mobile device is currently located in the geographic region. A beacon network can provide more accurate estimates of mobile device location and advertise location based services available to the mobile device. For more information on this, see patent application 20120115512
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below is an overview of techniques of multi-tier geofence detection.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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