It looks like Apple is exploring opportunities to bring its biometric authentication technologies into its smart home ecosystem.
As Patently Apple reports, the tech giant has been granted a new US patent detailing how Touch ID could be implemented in the remote control of its Apple TV. This would allow an end user to authenticate transactions, such as movie rentals through Apple’s online store, with a fingerprint scan.
The biometric authentication option could also be used to tailor settings and parental controls to the particular user holding the remote. An underage child, for example, could be prevented from accessing sensitive content that is available to an adult member of the same household.
While the integration of Touch ID into the Apple TV remote is its central focus, the patent also notes that the biometric authentication system could theoretically be integrated into smart home components such as thermostats, security systems, and kitchen appliances; and the patent notes that biometric authentication could also be performed with different modalities, such as palm prints or face recognition.
Patent filings don’t necessarily indicate that actual products are in development, of course. And Apple files a lot of patents. But at the very least, its filings indicate technological areas that the company’s engineers are exploring, offering a hint at where Apple might go next in the development of its product portfolio.
For its part, this particular filing suggests that Apple wants to broaden its use of biometrics across more devices – an ambition that isn’t so surprising given how Apple’s biometric authentication systems have proliferated beyond iPhone devices and into Apple’s tablets and laptops in recent years.
The patent is also notable for its focus on Touch ID, suggesting that Apple still sees value in the trailblazing fingerprint recognition system despite its focus on facial recognition since the end of 2017. The patent was filed in August of 2019.
Again, no single patent offers a definitive indication of Apple’s product plans, but it will be interesting to see what kinds of new offerings the company has in store in its HomeKit portfolio in 2022.
January 3, 2022 – by Alex Perala