Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 12:50pm
Apple has been granted a patent for a system that would let users replace ads (or other content) in audio or video broadcasts with their own content.
Apple Insider thinks the patent hints "at technology headed to the battle for the living room... the system could be tweaked for cable which would lend itself nicely to the set-top box Apple is rumored to be shopping around to U.S. providers." Just try a Google search for "Apple TV rumors" to see the level buzz in this area.
But the patent also singles out radio, whether it be AM, FM or streaming. It's actually titled, "Seamless switching between radio and local media."
Basically, it would work like this: A device using Apple's system could "determine when an upcoming broadcast segment or media item is not of interest to the user," whether it be an annoying song, a talk radio segment the user doesn't like or an ad. "When such an event is detected," writes Apple Insider, "the device will seamlessly switch to stored media until the unwanted content is completed." Stored media in this case could mean an mp3 song or podcast stored locally on the device.
The system would determine what users like and don't like using a rating system, "much like the system in place with apps like Pandora."
In other words, picture a TiVo where you can watch a short clip of a favorite show instead of an ad break.
Apple Insider goes into much more detail on Apple's new patent here.
The patent is interesting as it could potentially make non-customizable radio (or TV) broadcasts much more relevant to individual listeners. Apple notes, "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." With its system in place, a user wouldn't have to listen to such content anymore.
It could also potentially mean Apple could "strip out all the ads on your radio station," notes James Cridland in Media UK (here).
Of course, it could also mean absolutely nothing. It's just a patent for now.
In 2010, Apple submitted a patent for a native radio mobile app for AM, FM and satellite stations (RAIN coverage here; pictured left). We're all still waiting for that one. Same goes for Apple's "lifestyle companion app." Or that iPad optical stylus. For every smart cover or pinch-to-zoom patent, there's a smart bike or hybrid touchscreen desktop computer.
Point being: Apple patents hardly indicate when or even if such products or features will reach consumers’ hands. But we can't wait to find out! -- MS