Your fingerprint can already do a bunch of things on iPhones that have Touch ID sensors, including unlocking the devices, purchasing content from the App Store, logging into apps and sites, and using Apple Pay. But Apple has figured out another place where your fingerprint might be used: The connected home of the future.
Three new Apple patent applications reveal that Apple is looking into ways to use your fingerprints at home to customize content preferences, control various connected gadgets, and secure access to personal data.
The patents, discovered by Apple Insider, mention Apple TV remote controls that would have built-in Touch ID sensors. With a simple touch, users would be able to turn on a TV and access content tailored to their preferences without having to enter a password or even access any menus.
As soon as the remote is passed to a second user, a new fingerprint scan would let that person access a customized TV experience of his or her own.
By identifying a user with a Touch ID sensor, Apple’s HomeKit software would be able to automatically enable certain profiles on a TV or other device, and let the user control several other gadgets that communicate with the Apple TV. Furthermore, the technology could be used to limit access to certain content on a TV, or restrict purchases from the App Store.
While the patents focus on TV access and describe essentially a new Apple TV remote that would have a fingerprint sensor in it, the technology could further evolve to turn any iOS device connected to that same Apple TV device into a home remote.
The patent also describes other ways of identifying users, including retina scans or facial recognition that might be used in place of TouchID.
It’s not clear at this point when or even if an Apple TV remote with an embedded Touch ID sensor will be released. But the patents seem to indicate that Touch ID and other biometrics will play a major role in Apple’s vision of the future.