Apple’s new iTV universal remote control patent application published

“On October 12, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s patent application titled ‘Apparatus and method to facilitate universal remote control’ which was originally filed in August 2005. Apple’s patent application relates to an apparatus and a method to facilitate a just-in-time universal remote control for controlling multiple appliances. In light of Apple’s September sneak preview of their iTV device which is set to launch in Q1 2007, today’s patent provides us with some interesting information,” Neo reports for MacNN.

Neo reports, “The patent reveals that the new remote will work with a plurality of appliances which includes one or more of a television, a video tape player, a video disk player, a stereo, a home control system, and a computer system with remotely controllable software (for example: a DVD player, a CD player, an MP3 player, or slideshow presentation software). The patent notes that this application is not restricted to only electronic appliances, but could also be used to control programs and functions that run on a computer system.”

Apple’s Abstract
One embodiment of the present invention provides a universal remote control, which includes a display screen and a user input mechanism. The universal remote control also includes a processing unit that is configured to display information on the display screen and to accept selection data from the user input mechanism. The universal remote control additionally includes a wireless communication mechanism that is configured to provide communications between the processing unit and an appliance or computer program running on a computer system. The appliance provides information to be displayed on the display screen, and information entered through the user input mechanism is communicated to the appliance. Since the appliance provides the information to be displayed on the display screen and also interprets the entries on the input mechanism, the universal remote control needs no special knowledge about the appliance.

Much more information and diagrams in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]

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  1. My one problem with Universal remotes is that many of them use a touchscreen interface. This is all well and good but that requires looking at the thing. The beauty of buttons is that you can be channel surfing or doing something relatively general like that without looking at the thing. I had one of those pronto devices and it was great how you could design it however you wanted but in the end I went back to the buttoned ones that came with my devices.

  2. I’ve been screaming for one of these things for years. I want a remote that can control iTunes on my computer in the study when I’m in the living room, and it blows my mind that Apple (or somebody else) hasn’t released a Airport-enabled remote. It’s so obvious, and is probably not that hard to do, given Apple’s technical prowess. I can only hope that this fills the bill. Of course, if they really want to make a universal remote, then presumably they’d have to make it IR as well. Here’s hoping they really do make something “Universal” rather than just another IR beast.

  3. Yeah, but the current Apple remote’s are the biggest suck-ass pieces of shit ever invented. Trying to be “minimalist” they end up being crippled instead. What makes me think that this remote will be any better?

  4. TommyBoy,
    Apple’s remote for FrontRow is awesome! Extremely simple, intuitive, and works well – no 40+ buttons there.

    Also, thank God for Neo! At least someone is doing the gruntwork of digging through all the patent application crap to find the Apple gems.

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