Posted with permission from International Business Times

Apple is already gearing up for the launch of its fifth-generation Apple TV next week. Interestingly, new details about what the Cupertino giant is planning for the digital media player surfaced this week thanks to a newly published patent. 

On Thursday, Patently Apple learned about a patent application that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office recently published. The patent appears to be detailing how Tim Cook’s company intends to bring biometric authentication to the device’s remote control. If realized, this would mean users will no longer be required to enter passcodes. Instead, a single scan on their fingerprint would do the trick.

Biometric authentication is something that’s slowly becoming ubiquitous in the smartphone industry. Apple introduced its Touch ID fingerprint authentication technology with the launch of the iPhone 5s. It has since become a staple of newer iPhone releases, and it has also been introduced on other Apple products, such as iPads and the MacBook Pro. Thus, bringing the technology to the Apple TV definitely makes sense. 

The Apple TV remote with a biometric sensor would be perfect for everyday use. Adult users could easily access their accounts and jump back to any show or movie they want to see or resume watching. For younger users, parents or guardians can set up restrictions for their account and limit only the content they can view upon getting authenticated. 

It’s also possible for the advanced remote controller to work with appliances at home. Apple already has HomeKit, a platform designed to communicate and control household devices. Making the controller work with other devices apart from the Apple TV would bring a simplified and unified user experience. 

What’s interesting is the fact that the patent does not specify the type of biometric sensor that the future Apple TV remote could come equipped with. While its highly possible for the biometric sensor to be one for reading fingerprints, other forms such as the iris scanner and facial recognition technology are not ruled out. 

The patent notes that while the included illustrations show a fingerprint reader, this is merely to set an example. “The sensor may include any number of biometric sensors capable to detect biometrical characteristics from the candidate user,” an excerpt from the patent reads. “In some embodiments, the sensor may be a retina or iris scanner, an electrocardiography sensor, a vein imaging sensor, voice sensor, or any other sensor capable to objectively measure a unique biometric characteristic of the candidate user.”

Since this is still just a patent filing, it’s not certain if Apple’s plan for the Apple TV remote would reach fruition. For now though, Samsung’s biggest rival is focused on the imminent launch of its new products during its upcoming Sept. 12 press event. It is being rumored that Tim Cook’s company will unveil the next-generation Apple TV at the event. The updated device is believed to come with support for 4K and HDR. 

In addition to the fifth-generation Apple TV, Apple is also reportedly introducing the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE support on the same day. Then, of course, the press event will not be complete sans the standout products from Apple. This year, the company is launching three new iPhone iterations: the 10th anniversary iPhone currently dubbed as iPhone 8 and the two yearly upgrades, iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. 

A new Apple patent reveals what the company has been planning for its Apple TV device. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn