There has been much speculation about the prospect of the fabled Apple TV, better known among its theoretical fans as the iTV, and now another development has sparked further debate, rumours and general excitement that surrounds news of this nature. The development comes in the form of yet another Apple patent application finding its way into the public eye, which details an enhanced audio system. All we know for sure from this is that Apple plans to improve the audio on something, which will come as no surprise and is a perfectly logical move, but the exciting part is the fact that it would be perfectly at home on a TV… maybe even an iTV. Fuelling the rumour mill are reports from China that Apple is in fact working on three different models for the iTV.
Published on Thursday, the patent application describes a new sound system with an enticing feature; intelligence. In other words, it can detect where a viewer is in relation to it and automatically adjust the volume accordingly. It may also be able to take into account which direction the viewer is facing, as well as the kind of environment surrounding it and, once again, adjust its audio for optimal volume. Apple itself dropped the hint that it may be for TV, but only as part of a list of possible applications, which also included laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Video conferencing has been cited as another potential use for it. If the rumours are true, you could soon be participating in a FaceTime call through your TV, while the audio system would adjust the volume on your screen for each participant based on their position onscreen. Better still is the possibility of an image processing unit that would be able to use facial recognition and eye tracking in order to figure out whereabouts exactly your mouth is. With this information it will direct its microphone towards it for superior audio quality.
We do not yet know for sure if Apple has definite plans to use this enhanced audio system anytime soon but reports do indicate that three differently shaped television sets are in the planning stages and two of them are even ready to enter production. A source in China claims to have seen these three models and describes a possible entry-level model that could be launched in May. This model measures 13 to 18 inches, while the largest model measures 50 inches. All three are expected to come with Retina Display. But of course, we do not know just how reliable the source is at this point.
But the idea of an Apple TV is nothing new and there has been talk among fans and analysts since 2009 that such a product would see the light of day. What sparked the rumours more recently though is the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed interest in TV on behalf of the company and has hinted that a lot could be done in this area. Analysts are divided on what this could mean. Some say it simply means Apple will continue to develop its set-top box, while others are confident that 2013 will see an Apple TV emerge.