Apple Patents Smart Home And Media Center Remote Control Via iPhone

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The fabled Apple television set is still a fable, lo these many years after it first was whispered into the waiting ear of an analyst or blogger, but today Apple has secured a new patent (via AppleInsider) which could renew interest in rumors of Apple’s television plans, since it describes an iPhone-based remote control system for completely setting up a home theatre system tailored to specific types of content, moods and themes.

Apple’s multimedia system/smart home-type remote would be able to recall, store and set things like lighting, channels, music and window shades as well as set stereo components like amplifiers and more to desired settings. It’s essentially a Logitech Harmony universal remote, with settings like “Watch a movie” or “Play a game” very similar to those available on Logitech’s highly customizable home theater control devices, but with a lot more options and features thrown into the mix, and a control scheme that extends to connected home devices, which could conceivably include things like Philips Hue connected lighting system.

The system also has some neat automated components, like suggesting themes and whole home settings based on metadata associated with content being watched. This means that you don’t have to sit down with intent aforehand to watch something and choose the appropriate theme – while you’re browsing or channel surfing, and if you happen to light upon something you seem to like, the system could suggest an appropriate mode to go with it. So if you get sucked into Spartacus, for instance, Apple’s iPhone-based multimedia concierge could offer to change your system over to the idea setting for classical epics with a single tap.

Apple’s patent appears to be designed to work with content sources including broadcast television, since it contains a provision for waiting for a commercial break before it even offers up any kind of scene suggestions at all, so it could definitely be included in any kind of over-the-top service that the Mac maker might have in the hopper. The patent application itself is quite a few years old, which might be reason enough to suspect this idea has been shelved, but at the time of its original filing it also would’ve looked a lot more science fiction than it does given today’s technology.