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Patent hints at next generation Apple TV

The USPTO has published seven different patents from Apple today, including one that might be found in the next generation of the Apple TV. The patent allows for a "Remote Control System that can Distinguish Stray Light Sources" -- in other words, a Wii style remote that can pick out a certain type of light source from other bulbs in the house. The patent paints some pretty wild pictures of what they must be working on at Apple HQ: it describes IR emitters mounted near a television, and then describes how to keep the remote control both "measuring its own motion" from those sensors, and able to recognize differences between those sensors and other light sources, including reflections and other features of the surroundings.

Of course, Apple's not a company that tends to follow, so you have to wonder what else they're putting together if they really are planning on taking a song from Nintendo's Wii and adding it to the Apple TV's repertoire. Not that we'll ever see it for sure -- they file patents all the time, some of them already used (other patents filed today include Smart Playlists in iTunes and the "slide to unlock" feature found in the iPhone and the iPad), and some which will never see release. But it certainly sounds like something is cooking in the Apple R&D labs.

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