Apple has filed three new patents relating to putting biometric user identification on a remote control. The biometric system depicted is very similar to the current Touch ID fingerprint scanning system on the company’s newest mobile devices.
The patents essentially revolve around a process by which a remote control device determines a user’s identity via biometric scan, which then activates that user’s profile on a secondary device. Diagrams associated with the patent filings indicate a TV as the secondary device, which suggests that this could be part of an Apple TV brand refresh expected this fall. And the utility of such a system is fairly obvious, with distinct watching histories and perhaps even parental controls automatically coming up when a user is identified.
Still, Apple insists that the secondary device mentioned in the patent filings doesn’t necessarily have to be a TV, and that such depictions in its filings are really just meant to illustrate the concepts of the system being described. That could be a signal that other applications are intended for such a system, and there are indeed many possibilities that might be associated with the emerging Internet of Things. Moreover, the Touch ID systems on Apple’s newest iPhones already feature the hardware that would be necessary to enable such a system, and lately there have been indications that Apple intends for the iPhone to become the hub of the smart home. So there’s plenty of room for speculation about applications of this system beyond the Apple TV.