PatentMonkey: Will the iPhone be used as Apple TV Remote?


So genesis of the iPhone was sometime back in 2005, right? Interestingly, Apple happened to file a continuation on a patent application around that time covering a Universal Remote for controlling a number of home entertainment devices.

A touch screen, hand held controller with a dynamic display that interacts with your entertainment appliances for information and can control a growing array of your media devices. A very iPhone-looking figure after the jump…

From this and Apple’s earlier Universal Remote patent, we get this interface and device image:

Apple Universal Remote Display

Crazy? Perhaps using your $500 (or $1,936 depending on how you do the math :O ) iPhone to control your flat panel is not logical, but Apple does have a fantastic track record with integration between Macs and digital cameras, printers and other periphery devices.

A bit of detail from the patent:

1. A universal remote control, comprising:
a display screen, a user input mechanism a processing unit configured to display information on the display screen and to accept selection data from the user input mechanism; and a wireless communication mechanism configured to provide communications between the processing unit and an appliance; wherein the processing unit is configured to accept display information from the appliance for display on the display screen; wherein the processing unit is further configured to accept information entered through the user input mechanism for communication to the appliance; wherein the wireless communication mechanism is configured to periodically broadcast a discovery command; and wherein if an appliance is in range, the appliance responds to the discovery command to facilitate communication of the display information from the appliance to the universal remote control; wherein a set of standard graphical representations of appliance-control mechanisms is stored in the appliance and can be sent over a wireless communications link to the universal remote control for display to the user.

OK, so most everything is controlled by IR (and it makes no sense for the iPhone to have IR), but bucking that trend is Samsung’s recently rolled out Bluetooth HD TV for $4600, which it claims is the world’s first.

Apple has proven time and again that it thinks about ease of use. Toying with some code to turn an iPhone into the end-all of universal remotes by trying it out on the Apple TV would be the beginning of resolving one of the greatest problems in modern consumer electronic times (then again, maybe not, but it would be cool).