Apple eyes remote control personalized via fingerprint, retinal scan

A newly published patent application details a TV remote that could respond differently to separate people based on a scan of their fingerprint or eye.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Future remote controls could sport a fingerprint sensor, as envisioned by Apple. Apple/USPTO

Apple has envisioned a TV remote that can access your personal profile and settings based on your fingerprint or retina.

A patent application called "Device Configuration for Multiple Users Using Remote User Biometrics" published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office lays out the technology for personalizing remote controls. The idea would be to let each person in a household access a personal profile on a TV, set-top box or other device based on biometric information, such as a fingerprint, picked up by the remote control.

Why go through the trouble of outfitting a remote control with a fingerprint or retina sensor? According to Apple's application, such a device could offer a "personalized experience...without burdening and/or annoying" others. One could imagine how this could play out in a number of ways.

First, such a technology could spare you the hassle of having to choose a single, specific profile for the device. Instead, a touch of your finger or scan of your eye could call up your customized settings -- or those for each household member. In addition, it could allow parents to restrict content for their children.

Although Apple uses a TV as the most obvious example, you could potentially access many other types of devices using a remote control that scans your fingerprint or eye. The technology could extend to media centers, desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and other wearables, kitchen appliances, cars, gaming consoles, lighting systems, air conditioners and more.

As one example cited by Apple, a husband and wife may both use a certain electronic device, such as a TV, computer or gaming console. Both may have their own individual settings, including volume level, screen layout, screen saver, and brightness and contrast levels. Scanning the fingerprint or retina of the husband, the remote control would trigger his settings; doing the same for the wife would call up her customized settings.

As another example, your TV, media player or other electronic device could suggest certain content, such as TV shows, movies, music and video games, based on your biometric scan. And as a third example, a TV with a remote control for a generic user could reconfigure itself with certain content and settings already associated with the person on a different TV once that person has been identified through a fingerprint or retinal scan.

Current devices already allow you to create individual profiles and then identify you through certain types of recognition. For example, Microsoft's Xbox Kinect can identify a person via a body scan. But assuming Apple's remote control invention ever sees the light of day, this type of biotmetric technology could be more versatile and ubiquitous and recognize you more quickly.

(Via AppleInsider)