A patent application today reveals Apple is working on a universal touchscreen controller capable of controlling multiple devices including a “television, a video tape player, a video disk player, a stereo, a home control system, or a computer system.”
The patent application is titled “Apparatus and Method to Facilitate Universal Remote Control” and was filed Sept. 30, 2011.
With all of the rumors of an Apple branded television it’s likely this could be the patent for the remote. It could also be the remote for an upcoming Apple TV 3 set top box. The current remote is adequate but it could certainly be improved upon.
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.