On Christmas day 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark office reveals one of PrimeSense's key technologies relating to a 3D sensing device that is operated using a unique in-air gesturing system and user interface. The technology found its way into Microsoft's Kinect. The system could one day find its way into Apple TV and future Macs.
In January 2013 the first of a series of patents began to surface on the topic of a future video conferencing system. The first patent covered a very cool and unique video conference system for use with a future internet-enabled HDTV that integrated an advanced depth perceiving audio system. A year later an Apple patent revealed a multi-participant video conferencing architecture. Then in May a centralized home controller patent came to light. Apple envisioned that the new controller would control a TV, set-top box, stereo system and beyond. With Apple introducing their new HomeKit just weeks later at their developer conference, we were able to understand that the centralized home controller was going to be able to control home security, fire detectors, future appliances and so forth over time. The central home controller would make most sense being built into a future version of Apple TV, which is something that we discussed later in June. Yesterday, an Apple patent surfaced in Europe that revealed an easy to use multi-participant conferencing system using Apple TV in "Conference Room Mode." The system could be used at home or work, though the conferencing room feature is really meant for meetings at work. So in evolutionary fashion we're seeing a more focused project emerging to advance Apple TV in whatever form it takes in the future and it may even one day work itself into being a MobileFirst application.
Apple's Master Siri patent that we covered back in January 2012 listed Apple TV (the set top box) as one of devices that Siri could one day work with. Last month Amazon surprised the market with a device that they've branded as "Echo." It was like Siri out of iDevices and into your home via a standalone device doubling as a wireless speaker. I noted at the end of that report that having Siri voice controls for our Apple TV would be a dream machine. Well, start dreaming because Apple's European patent filing presents such a scenario and much more. There's no cryptic language in this patent about their intentions of using voice commands for Apple TV. Now it's just a matter of when. Apple's patent application focuses on the communications system that will use a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) framework.
On October 2, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that finally reveals an Apple TV user interface that could be custom fit specifically for your particular iDevice or Mac display size. In 2012 we noted in a patent report that Apple hinted that Siri could be coming to iTunes. Apple notes in this patent filing that using your iPhone with the new Apple TV GUI could take advantage of speech which translates to using Siri. That would be very cool for searches and so forth. We've also noted in the past that companies like LG are now designing future smartphones with dual display so that users will be able to better enjoy Mobile TV services. If this is a future trend for the industry, then Apple's latest Apple TV related invention is step one in getting Apple TV onto mobile devices for future mobile TV services.
Earlier today Patently Apple discovered a patent application filing that listed one of Apple's leading product design engineers. The patent application was published under its inventor's names as a means of avoiding being published under Apple's name at the US Patent Office. Legally speaking, Apple only has to appear as the assignee after the patent application has been granted. This is a somewhat common practice that Apple uses to keep specific intellectual property out of the lime light until the last possible moment. The discovery today covers a rather simple invention. It's about providing Apple TV with a much larger heat sink. Today's Apple TV supports a 32-bit single-core A5 processor. But if Apple should ever decide to adopt their faster A7 or future A8 64-bit single or multi-core processors to support gaming, it would need a larger heat sink. In context, last Wednesday iFixit uncovered a larger heat sink in Amazon's new Fire TV that's aiming at Android gaming. The trend is obvious.