Speculation about an Apple TV continues to pick up, and JP Morgan is adding to the mix with a roundup of six Apple patents that could be involved with such a device. StreetInsider reported that analysts Katy Huberty and Jerry Liu identified patents that pertain to interface, remotes, 3D, and an improved TFT-LCD display.
Apple's business model is to enter markets only when it can control key technologies and intellectual property, and then add value to that market. These patents certainly could apply, but the reality is that Apple patents many technologies that may never see the light of day in a shipping product.
The six patents, taken from the JP Morgan research note:
Enhancing media system metadata - filed Oct. 2006, granted January 2011. This invention "includes a search engine interface to search content across various libraries such as iTunes, imdb.com, amazon.com, netflix.com, and social networking sites, as well as advertising content."
Personal items network, and associated methods - filed Dec. 2006, granted June 2009. Could "redefine" sports by placing sensors on the athletes and transferring metrics like heart rate, speed, body temp all in real time to the display.
Context-aware unit selection - filed November 2007, granted N/A. The application would allow for the integration of Siri, a key driver for Apple moving forward.
GUI applications for use with 3D remote controller - filed May 2008, granted N/A. A 3-D remote control application which would allow for a cursor to be displayed on the screen "by the position and orientation at which it is held."
Three-dimensional imaging and display system - filed October 2005, granted September 2011. "The invention involves a groundbreaking 3D imaging and display system that optically detects human positions and motions, projects virtual objects onto a display area, and provides audio and visual feedback," according to the analysts.
Common bus design for a TFT-LCD display - filed Dec. 2008, granted March 2012. Relates to a higher refresh rate FFS TFT LCD technology, which would provide a clearer picture and allow for less viewer fatigue.
The analysts said that a recent survey showed a market of 13 million people interested in buying an Apple TV in the U.S. alone, and that these people would be willing to pay a 20 percent premium, or $1,060. They said that this combines for a $13 billion sales opportunity for Apple, a figure that would go up with markets outside the U.S.