On October 24, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that they're still hard at work on a sophisticated next generation human recognition system. The work on this new system began in 2009 and their most elaborate work on this project was actually revealed in November 2012. We covered Apple's invention in great detail in our report titled "Apple Advances their Multi-Level Presence Sensing System." The 2012 patent provided the image of an HDTV and in this latest patent filing, Apple points to television content that may be R-Rated not being able to play if a young person walks into a room while the content is playing. Apple's new system will instantly scan an individual entering a room and adjust the TV as required. With an elderly person walking into a room, the audio may automatically be adjusted higher. If a Spanish friend walked into your living room, then the TV or Movie content would begin to present Spanish sub-titles. The advances discussed in the patent include fingerprint scanners, retina scanners and much, much more.
Apple's Patent Background
Many electronic devices provide the ability to sense or detect information from its surroundings when instructed by a user. In particular, many computers, laptops, tablets, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, and other electronic devices include one or more cameras that can capture still or moving images and/or one or more infrared detectors that can detect heat data. Many of these devices also provide a user with the ability to access content using the device and to alter settings relating to the presentation of the content according to the user's desire. For example, a user may "login" to an electronic device, access private emails, play an adult-rated movie, halt playing of the movie when a child walks in the room, and perform many other actions using the device depending on the circumstances. However, one or more manual actions must be performed by the user in order to accomplish each of these tasks and, oftentimes, the user may not even be aware that one or more of these actions should be performed (e.g., that playback of an adult-rated movie should be stopped because a child has stepped into the room).
Apple Invents Controlling Output of Content based on Human Recognition Data Detection
Apple's invention relates to a method of controlling output of content using an electronic device. The content may be associated with at least one rule that includes at least one condition and at least one action.
The method may include attempting with the electronic device to detect human feature data, in response to detecting the human feature data, determining with the electronic device whether the detected human feature data satisfies the at least one condition of the at least one rule, and, in response to a determination that the detected human feature data satisfies the at least one condition, performing with the electronic device the at least one action to control the output of the content.
Apple states that an electronic device may be operative to capture human recognition data of one or more individuals by employing one or more sensors. For example, an electronic device may include a camera with an optical or digital lens operative to capture light reflected by one or more individuals in the line of sight of the camera and by the individuals' surrounding environment in the line of sight of the camera.
The electronic device may be operative to store particular images captured by the lens for analysis (e.g., to detect one or more faces of one or more individuals). Alternatively or additionally, the electronic device may include an infrared sensor to capture heat data reflected off of the one or more individuals' faces.
As yet another example, a microphone may capture audio data that may be analyzed to detect a voice of one or more particular individuals.
Based upon the analysis of captured human recognition data, the electronic device may determine a profile of one or more detected individuals from the captured human recognition data (e.g., three faces being detected, such as one belonging to a child, one belonging to an adult female, and one belonging to an elderly male).
In addition, the electronic device may also determine whether one or more conditions of a rule that may be defined for particular content is satisfied. In particular, the electronic device may be configured to determine whether one or more conditions of a rule that may be defined for particular content is satisfied based on the determined profile of the one or more detected individuals (e.g., whether a child is detected).
In some embodiments, access to particular content may be requested, and the electronic device may grant access to the requested content only if one or more conditions of a rule defined for the content is satisfied (e.g., only if the profile of detected individuals includes a required user and no one else other than the required user (e.g., access to a sensitive e-mail may only be granted if a specific individual is detected and no other individual is detected)).
In other embodiments, particular content may be presented (e.g., an adult movie may be played) while a rule defined for the content is checked. If a condition of the rule is satisfied, for example, the electronic device may alter a presentation of the content by performing an action of the rule (e.g., the electronic device may instruct a media player application to stop the playback of the adult movie when the profile of detected individuals includes at least one child). The output of various types of content may be controlled by such rules, including, for example, e-mails, documents, files, applications, movies, songs, audio clips, video clips, TV programs, any combination thereof, and any other type of content.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below is a schematic view of an illustrative electronic device 100 that may control output of content. The key component here is the detector which is shown below as #114.
The detector found in Apple's patent FIG. 1 may include one or more sensors of any suitable type that may capture human recognition data (e.g., face data) that may be utilized to detect the presence of one or more individuals. For example, the detector may include an image sensor and/or an infrared sensor.
In some embodiments, the detector may also include one or more sensors that may detect any human feature or characteristic (e.g., physiological, psychological, physical, movement, etc.). For example, the detector may include a microphone for detecting voice signals from one or more individuals.
As another example, the detector may include a heartbeat sensor for detecting heartbeats of one or more individuals. As yet other examples, detector 114 may include a fingerprint reader, an iris scanner, a retina scanner, a breath sampler, and a humidity sensor that may detect moisture and/or sweat emanating from any suitable portion of an individual's body.
Apple also notes that the detector may include a humidity sensor that may be situated near or coupled to one or more portions of input component and that it may detect moisture and/or sweat from an individual's hands. It should be appreciated that any detector may include any sensor that may detect any human feature or characteristic.
The detection module may utilize data that may be stored in a detection data structure and any other available data when analyzing current captured human recognition data for determining current detected human profile data.
For example, the detection data structure may have already stored human feature data for one or more individuals, and other data that may assist in determining the identity, age, race, and/or gender of any detected human feature data using any of the human feature detection and/or recognition techniques described above or any other suitable techniques.
In some embodiments, the detection data structure may include human feature data associated with human features of a particular individual or general class of individuals to enable detection and/or recognition of that particular individual or that general class of individuals. Such data may include eye data, nose data, mouth data, chin data, face areas data, face feature distance data, face shape data, face feature angles data, any other suitable face related data, voice data, and any other suitable human feature data for a particular individual or class of individuals.
The detection module may, for example, compare current captured data with any of the human feature data that may be stored in detection data structure using any suitable human detection technique, and may determine the number of individuals detected, the identity, age, race, and/or gender of each of the detected individuals, whether any of the detected individuals are authorized individuals of particular content, and any other suitable information.
The Image Sensor
Apple notes that the image sensor shown as #116 of FIG. 1 may include one or more cameras with any suitable lens or number of lenses that may be operative to capture images of the surrounding environment. For example, the image sensor may include any number of optical or digital lenses for capturing light reflected by the device's environment as an image.
The Infrared Sensor
Apple further notes that the infrared ("IR") sensor #118 may include any suitable type of sensor capable of detecting signals in infrared wavelengths (e.g., near-infrared). The infrared sensor may be capable of distinguishing an object from its environment by detecting differences in their respective heat signatures. The infrared sensor may also be capable of detecting finer details of an object (e.g., facial features) using any suitable technique.
Sounds a Lot like a Future Apple TV Feature
Apple states further into the patent filing that particular content may include a may include a particular type of rating such as with movies given an R rating or PG rating.
In some embodiments, Apple notes that content their control system may alter a presentation of content in response to at least one child being detected during the presentation. For example, a rule may be defined for particular adult-rated material content (e.g., one or more of an adult-rated movie, an adult-rated video, adult-rated music, adult-rated photos, etc.). Conditions may be associated with the rule and may include at least one child being detected during a presentation of particular adult content. An action may be associated with the rule which may correspond to conditions and may include altering the presentation of the particular adult-rated material content to be paused, stopped, and/or hidden.
Additionally, a display may be turned off, a volume setting of the presentation may be lowered or muted, and/or sub-titles associated with content altered according to the rules that the user sets.
Could Instantly Translate TV Languages Depending on who's Walking into the Room
In another interesting example, Apple notes that the content control system may alter a presentation of content in response to an individual that is associated with a particular language being detected during the presentation. For example, if an individual associated with the Spanish language is detected, then the particular multi-media content, like a movie, may be automatically translated into Spanish.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 note below is a flowchart of an illustrative process for controlling output of content.
Apple credits Michael Ingrassia and Nathaniel Hramits as the inventors of patent application 20130279744 which was originally filed in Q2 2012. For more on this fascinating patent, see Apple's invention.
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