Apple considering an universal remote control
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Apple considering an universal remote control

A new patent (number 20120019371) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on a apparatus and method to facilitate an universal remote control. Could this hint at the much-rumored Apple HDTV (the "iTV")?

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. Alberto Vidal is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Modern appliances typically include a remote control that allows the user to control the functions of the appliance without having to go to the appliance. Remote controls for complex appliances such as home stereo systems or video disk players have myriad buttons and switches to control the many functions of the appliance.

"While all of these buttons and switches are necessary for complete control of the appliance, users typically use only a small subset of the total controls on the remote control. The controls that are not normally used clutter the remote control and can cause confusion to the user when trying to locate a seldom-used feature.

"Users are also confronted with multiple remote controls, one for each remotely controllable appliance in the home, such as a television, a video tape player, a video disk player, a stereo system, and a home device control system. Remote controls from different manufacturers can have widely different user interfaces, which can also lead to user confusion even after selecting the proper remote control device.

"Manufacturers have created so-called universal remote controls, which can be trained to mimic several remote controls, and can then control each appliance for which they have been trained. While universal remote controls attempt to address the problem of multiple remote controls, these devices are even more complex to operate, further confusing the user. Additionally, a universal remote control may not be able to duplicate every command sequence designed into a remote control designed for the appliance, and for future appliances.

"Hence, users must spend time learning a new remote control or programming an existing universal remote control each time they purchase a new remotely controllable appliance, which detracts from the enjoyment of using the appliance after it is first purchased. What is needed is an apparatus and a method to provide remote control over multiple appliances without the difficulties described above.

"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.

"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 forwards the entries on the input mechanism, the universal remote control needs no special knowledge about the appliance."

 
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