Patent filing involves an ‘assistant media presentation’ on the Apple TV set-top box

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190221200) for “assisted media presentation” with the goal of helping visually impaired users navigate graphical user interfaces on TV sets.The invention would, I assume, work with the company’s TV app and its Apple TV set-top box.

In the patent filing, Apple says that Aa digital media receiver (DMR) is a home entertainment device that can connect to a home network to retrieve digital media files (e.g., music, pictures, video) from a personal computer or other networked media server and play them back on a home theater system or television. That wold be the Apple TV.

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Users can access the content stores directly through the DMR to rent movies and TV shows and stream audio and video podcasts. A DMV also allows a user to sync or stream photos, music and videos from their personal computer and to maintain a central home media library. 

Apple says that, despite the availability of large high definition television screens and computer monitors, visually impaired users may find it difficult to track a cursor on the screen while navigating with a remote control device. Visual enhancement of on screen information may not be helpful for screens with high density content or where some content is not navigable by the remote control device. Apple wants to change this

Here’s the summary of the invention: “A system and method is disclosed that uses screen reader like functionality to speak information presented on a graphical user interface displayed by a media presentation system, including information that is not navigable by a remote control device. Information can be spoken in an order that follows a relative importance of the information based on a characteristic of the information or the location of the information within the graphical user interface. 

“A history of previously spoken information is monitored to avoid speaking information more than once for a given graphical user interface. A different pitch can be used to speak information based on a characteristic of the information. Information that is not navigable by the remote control device can be spoken after time delay. Voice prompts can be provided for a remote-driven virtual keyboard displayed by the media presentation system. The voice prompts can be spoken with different voice pitches.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.