Fed up of having to pick up the remote controls to change channel when something boring comes on? Apple has just patented a broadcast device that will know - in advance - whether you're going to be interested in that nature documentary, and will change to something better so you don't have to.
In patent 8,249,497 'Seamless switching between radio and local media', awarded to Apple yesterday, Cupertino outlines a mechanism where a TV or radio will change channels of its own accord.
Apple won a swathe of 29 patents yesterday and this is one of them.
The device described in the patent decides whether or not you'd be interested in the content and if it rules that you wouldn't, it will cut it and mix in something more interesting from the library or from previously recorded material.
In the wording of the patent, Apple uses radio as an example, but says the patent also applies to broadcasts of all sorts, including TV. The device would filter out ads, talk show guests you don't like .. all without user input:
A user ... may not be interested in every media item provided as part of a broadcast stream. For example, a user may not like a particular song broadcast by a radio station, or may not like a particular segment of a talk radio station (eg, the user does not like the topic or guest of the segment). As another example, a user may not be interested in content originally generated by sources other than the media source (eg, advertisement content). Because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest.
Apple says it aims to make it a soft-cut, "seamless", experience: with the substituted media matched to the original by filtering its genre and metadata.
How do they know you won't be interested in that nature documentary? By building up a preference profile for you.
And those preferences could get prodded out of you in different ways - by questions, by monitoring your playback history (what you switched off, what you switched on), and what's already loaded on your drives and media devices.
In some embodiments, the electronic device or another device can direct the user to respond to a series of questions from which the device can identify the user's preferences. Alternatively, the electronic device can monitor the user's playback history to identify the type of media items or segments to which the user listens (eg, both broadcast and locally stored media items or segments) or that the user skips or tunes away from. As still another example, the electronic device can determine, from the media items or segments locally stored or available from a host device, specific media items or the types of media items of interest to the user.
No mention of a way to turn it off when you have guests over who don't know about your pash for Nigella, though.
Hopefully that will get built in before Apple starts using the tech. ®