Component information found within the code of the iOS 5.1 beta update revealed Apple is developing a new version of its Apple TV device, which already offers channels for renting, purchasing, and watching iTunes Store content and allows users to play movies and music from their iTunes on their TV displays.
The new TV set-top will reportedly feature the newest version of Bluetooth, called Bluetooth Smart (4.0). Apple previously integrated Bluetooth Smart into its new iPhone 4S, and has also added the function to the latest iterations of the MacBook Air laptops and Mac Mini computers. Leveraging Bluetooth 4.0 technology, Apple could potentially implement motion-sensitive controls and even Siri onto its TV platform.
Bluetooth Smart devices are designed to gather a specific type of information - are all the windows on my house locked, what is my insulin level, how much do I weigh today? - and send it to a Bluetooth Smart Ready device, Bluetooth wrote in a press release. Examples include heart-rate monitors, blood-glucose meters, smart watches, window and door security sensors, key fobs for your car, and blood-pressure cuffs-the opportunities are endless.
By integrating IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and single-stream 802.1 n (MAC/baseband/radio), as well as an FM radio receiver and transmitter, Bluetooth Smart can sync with wireless technologies, such as Apple TV, in about 6 milliseconds, or almost instantaneously. If Apple can find a way for Bluetooth Smart to get along with Apple's virtual assistant Siri, the two might both appear in the upcoming version of Apple TV.
Siri, which first debuted on the iPhone 4S, was originally a project co-developed by SRI Ventures and the Department of Defense's innovation arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. DARPA invested $150 million into the project, making it the biggest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history.
Bluetooth 4.0 prides itself on its coexistence algorithms and its ability to connect with a greater number of wireless devices faster and more reliably. If Apple decides to port Siri to future devices, it's entirely likely that Apple would use Siri to help users control and navigate the Apple TV user interface, especially for searching and discovering content in the same way they can on the iPhone 4S.
With the addition of Bluetooth, sources also say the next-gen Apple TV could become a gaming port. If iOS devices can connect to the Apple TV device near instantly, users could play games or make gestures on their iOS devices and control a game on the Apple TV screen. Bluetooth 4.0 can also potentially leverage the gyroscopes and accelerometers within the iOS devices to make the handheld into a motion-sensitive game controller. For instance, if you play a driving game and you turn your phone, the car on the screen may be able to mirror the motion.
Manufactured by Broadcom, Bluetooth 4.0 functions on a small chip that consumes little power, but packs a very powerful punch.
The BCM4330 implements the highly sophisticated Enhanced Collaborative Coexistence radio coexistence algorithms and hardware mechanisms, allowing for an extremely collaborative Bluetooth coexistence scheme along with coexistence support for external radios (such as GPS, WiMax, or Ultra Wide-band radio technologies, as well as cellular radios) and single shared antenna (2.4 GHz antenna for Bluetooth and WLAN), Broadcom said. As a result, enhanced overall quality for simultaneous voice, video, and data transmission on a handheld system is achieved.
If Apple can port Siri and motion controls to its Apple TV system, it may have a chance to compete with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which recently announced a deal with Verizon's FiOS cable and Internet service to bring a bundle of 26 live channels with Kinect voice and gesture support to the gaming console. Verizon is now offering a new triple-play bundle for TV, Internet and phone service, which starts at $90 and includes 12 months of Xbox Live Gold and the recently released game, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Apple sells its current Apple TV device for $99.