Apple patent hints at future Apple TV, iTV features
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Apple patent hints at future Apple TV, iTV features

An Apple patent (number 8243017) for a menu overlay including a context dependent menu icon has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is investigating cable and satellite connectivity for its Apple TV set-top box and may hint at features of the rumored Apple-branded HDTV (the "iTV").

Per the patent, a video device displays video in one of a plurality of contexts in an onscreen display area. In response to the menu command, the video device generates a menu overlay within the onscreen display area while maintaining the video within the menu overlay, and generates within the menu overlay a context icon based on the selected context.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media devices, such as digital video receivers and recorders, can include multiple functions and capabilities, such as recording and replaying stored content, and the like. Often content, browsing and selecting from recorded content and broadcast context, and the like. Often the large number of options and menus available to a user are not presented to the user in an intuitive manner.

"Additionally, the associated control devices, such as remote controls, often have many single-function and multi-function input keys. Such remotes often have many unintuitive key combinations and sequences that can be difficult for a user to invoke or remember. The lack of an intuitive user interface and a similarly uncomplicated control device are often a source of user frustration.

"Disclosed herein are systems and methods for generating a menu in a video environment for video that can be display in one or more contexts. In one example, the menu includes a menu overlay and a video is maintained within the menu overlay. For example, the video may be shown through a translucent menu overlay. One or more context dependent icons may be generated within the menu overlay.

"In one example implementation, video can be displayed in one of a plurality of contexts in an onscreen display area. In response to the menu command, a menu overlay is generated within the onscreen display area while maintaining the video within the onscreen display, and one or more context icons based on the one of the plurality of contexts is generated within the menu overlay. In one example, the video is maintained within the onscreen display by maintaining the video within the menu overlay. For example, the menu overlay can be a translucent menu overlay.

"In another example implementation, a video system includes a video input device, a data store, a handheld remote, and a processing device. The video input device receives video data, and the data store stores the video data. The handheld remote includes a rotational input to generate remote control signals.

"The processing device is in communication with the video input device, the data store and the handheld remote, and is configured to process and display video in one of a plurality of contexts in a video environment. In response to a first remote control signal received from the handheld remote, the processing device generates a menu overlay within the video environment while maintaining the video within the video environment and generates within the menu overlay a context icon based on the one of the plurality of contexts."

The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Clare Goldeen, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu and Jeffrey Ma.

Also appearing today at the U.S, Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent number 8243426 is for reducing the appearance of optical effects in a display.

° Patent number 8245152 is for methods and apparatuses to accelerate scrolling for buffered windows

° Patent number 8244687 involves a database used to store user interface state information.

° Patent number 8243097 is for a portable electronic device that provides a compass bearing display juxtaposed with or superimposed on a camera viewfinder display.

° Patent number 8242868 involves methods and an apparatus for configuring a magnetic attachment system.

° Patent number 8242707 is for a method, system, and apparatus that can be used to operate a display device in an energy efficient manner.

° Patent number 82435156 is for a method comprising of displaying a graphical user interface object.

° Patent number 82435092 involves a method for efficient control signaling of two codeword to codeword transmissions.

° Patent number 8244981 is for combined transparent/non-transparent cache.

° Patent number 8244712 involves localized viewing of file system names.

° Patent number 8244600 is for improved methods, systems, graphical user interfaces and computer program code for presenting representations or information concerning digital products.

° Patent number 8244296 involves methods and an apparatus for dynamic thermal management and control within, e.g., small form-factor wireless devices such as laptop computers or cellular "smartphones."

° Patent number 8244171 is for systems and methods are provided for providing recommended radio stations to a user.

° Patent number 8244004 and 8244003 involve image pre-processing.

° Patent number 8243857 for systems and methods that include selecting a sampling frequency and a tuning resolution frequency.

° Patent number 8243636 involves modification of messages en route to a destination.

° Patent number 8243626 is for a method of estimating user location involving collecting data from the access points in the network.

° Patent number 8243617 involves a step-wise approach to automatically determining the bandwidth of a communication channel includes dividing the channel's potential bandwidth into a number of ranges.

° Patent number 8243442 is for an integrated switch assembly -- the integrated switch assembly including at least an actuator and a flexible membrane mechanically coupled to the actuator, the flexible membrane formed of a resilient, electrically conductive material.

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