Touch ID Could Be Key to Personalized Apple TV

Shortly before his death, Steve Jobs told his biographer, Walt Isaacson, that he had "cracked" the code to better television. At the time, the technology behind such a solution was thought to be Siri. Thanks to voice commands, a user could speak to an Apple TV or a remote control and access content. This could be a lot more user friendly than the endless ugly grids displayed by Time Warner and other cable providers. However, a series of Apple patents unveiled recently point to another technology that could make the TV viewing experience better.

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In these patents, Apple's Touch ID plays a central role in what would be a new kind of remote control. A device about the size of an Apple Watch or iPod shuffle is shown in the Apple Patent diagram, with the user's fingerprint being detected. As I wrote about recently, new technology could allow this to work under glass, so a visible home button with a fingerprint sensor might not be required. Steve Jobs passed away in 2011 and Apple didn't acquire Authentec, the company behind Touch ID, until 2012, for use in the iPhone 5s which shipped in 2013. Still the idea of fingerprint reader integrated with a TV remote may have been what he had in mind, and that led to those events.

Netflix

So the question is, why would a fingerprint reader, built in to a TV remote, be useful? If you have a family, certainly everyone has their own preferences. The first screen of Netflix asks which viewer is watching so it can personalize the experience based on favorites and history. If a fingerprint reader could identify who is watching, that could streamline what content is shown. Imagine not having to scroll through channels that aren't of interest to you, or being able to restrict adult content based on fingerprints. This would require strong integration between Apple and the content provider and an updated Apple TV, but that has been expected for years. Perhaps these patents show that the time has come.

Top image credit: Canadapanda / Shutterstock.com

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.