Apple Seeks Patent for New Kind of Digital Remote Control

By Joseph Mandour on October 10, 2014

remotecontrolSan Diego – Apple has filed patent application for a new kind of digital remote control partly because Apple believes that remote controls used today are outdated. The remote controls that we use now were designed when channels only had numbers. However, now, many of the streaming services use graphic interfaces to show viewers their offerings such as movies and television shows.

With the technology of the future in mind, Apple submitted a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March 2013 for a new kind of remote control for its Apple TV set-top box that uses icons and pictures. But these icons are reduced in size and made especially for a smartphone or a tablet. Apple already has a sleek remote control for the Apple TV with a limited number of buttons for navigation.

The new patent application also shows that Apple could phase out its current remote control. This means that there would be no physical remote, and instead Apple TV would only be controlled using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

The concepts in the patent application also go further than Apple’s Remote app that allows users to navigate Apple TV with a program very much like the mobile iTunes library interface. The new interface seems more complex with added graphics and features. But it is expected to give users a lot more flexibility. For example, the new Apple TV graphic user interface could allow users to change their screen layout depending on whether they are watching on a big-screen television or on the move.

Apple TV has not been much of a revenue generator for the tech giant. Instead Apple has focused lately on the iPhone and iPad. Apple TV has not had a hardware update for more than two years and the company has not added channels to the device. Competitors, such as Roku, generally offer more than Apple TV.

Apple has previously tried to update its TV remote. In 2012, its patent application suggested that it was working on a universal remote for the Apple TV or other products on the market. In August 2013, it also secured a patent for an iPhone-based controller that connects various home devices such as lights and fireplaces through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

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Posted in: Patent Registration