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Apple EU Patent Covers Apple TV's Conference Room Feature

1af - Cover - Apple TV video conferencing system
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 Invents Apple TV Conference Room Mode


Apple's invention relates to techniques for automatically configuring and controlling a conference room mode setting of a digital media device. A digital media device can be programmed to enter a conference room operating mode upon a trigger event. The trigger event can be a time-based trigger or an event-based trigger.


In the conference room mode, the digital media device can provide for display an identifier of the digital media device and an identifier of a network for accessing the digital media device. The identifier of the digital media device and identifier of a network can be used by a mobile device to connect to the digital media device and to submit content to the digital media device. Once configured, the digital media device can enter the conference room mode automatically, without requiring a user to select the conference room mode using a remote control.


Apple's invention can be implemented to achieve the following advantages. Automatic entry into conference room mode can make selecting a device for presentation in a meeting easier and more intuitive. When a user makes a presentation in a meeting in a conference room, the user may wish to send content from the user's mobile device to a display device located in the conference room through a digital media device.


For example, the user may wish to send a slide show, a screen shot, a product demonstration, a photo, or a movie from a laptop computer, a tablet computer, or a smart phone to a television monitor. The user can send the content to the television monitor through a DMR (Apple TV) accessible through a wireless local area network (WLAN).


Many digital media devices may be connected to the WLAN. There may be many networks detectable by the mobile device. To identify the particular DMR in the room and the particular network for the DMR, conventionally, the user may have to use a remote control of the DMR to navigate to a device information screen. Automatic entry into conference room mode can eliminate the need of the remote control and accordingly, can make the process of identifying a network and a DMR easier.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below is a diagram illustrating exemplary interactions between a mobile device and Apple TV in conference room mode. Apple adds that the digital media device could also be "a mobile or stationary computing device, a digital camera, an Internet-enabled television, or a game console."



In Apple's patent FIG. 3 we're able to see wireless content settings menu #304 which will include option #306 for configuring conference room mode settings.


3AF 2

Apple's patent FIG. 7 noted above illustrates an exemplary user interface #702 for configuring filter settings of the digital media device or Apple TV which could include parental control filters for allowing or preventing selected content from being displayed on display device if used at home.


In some implementations, it could be set up for a user-entered or automatically generated key (e.g., a password) for unlocking digital media device from a conference room mode.


Apple's patent FIG. 10 is an exemplary system architecture relating to this invention.



Apple's EU patent application was published and discovered earlier this week. Apple's original EU filing date was noted as being May 2014. To review more on Apple's ideas for Apple TV, see our archives.


Update: In the bigger picture, as we outlined in our opening summary, Apple has patents regarding a future video conferencing system. That's just a fact. In this present patent however, the conference room feature is restricted to sharing meeting materials on a TV screen using mobile devices in the room and doesn't cross over to using FaceTime. While a future conferencing system is likely to offer FaceTime, it's not covered in this patent filing. This was our error. The good news is that the European patent covers this Conference Room that debuted last year. I've never used it. If you have an Apple TV box, go to your settings and click on AirPlay and you will see this option that could be set for meetings. 


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