Rumor: Apple to launch TV that responds to gesture commands

By Lee Kaelin on

There is no denying that Apple has pretty much revolutionized the music and phone markets with its iPod and iPhone devices. Then came the iPad, which took the industry by storm and to this day still dominates the majority of tablet sales.

Now details are beginning to emerge about Apple's next big product, a television that you can control using gestures. The new device is said to be the brainchild of the late Steve Jobs, with the company hoping to realize his ambitions of turning couch surfing into a hi-tech experience.

Initial reports gained traction after Steve Jobs' biography referred to the new TV, with the former Apple executive quoted as saying: "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Japanese firm Sharp will reportedly start commercial production of television screens in February, and Apple would have the sets available by the second half of 2012, according to Peter Misek at the American bank Jefferies. "Other TV manufacturers have begun a scrambling search to identify what iTV will be and do," he said. "They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat-footed by Apple."

Apple's internet-connected television could also put existing services like BSkyB, Virgin and a host of online content providers at risk of losing customers to the Cupertino-based company's iCloud service, which could provide seemless downloading and viewing of films and music, as well as traditional television programs.

According to the Guardian, Apple filed a new patent in October for "real time video process control using gestures, which describes using infrared, motion and other sensors to read the user's movements." Gestures could be used for anything from editing video to moving a film playing on a mobile phone to a bigger screen.

Misek believes the iTV will start with an initial production run of approximately 5 million to 10 million units, and will utilize LCD panels. Jeff Robbin, a senior engineer for Apple who contributed in creating the iTunes service and the iPod, is said to be heading up the new project.

What is interesting though is Samsung already makes internet-connected television sets, so this new Apple device would open up a new front in which to compete with the South Korean technology giant. As you'd expect, Apple declined to comment on any speculation regarding the new product.

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