Apple Granted Patent on Intelligent Universal Remote System for iOS Devices

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a patent filed by Apple back in September 2008 which describes the "systems and methods for saving and restoring scenes in a multimedia system" (via AppleInsider). Patent number 8,519,820, which lists Alan Cannistraro, a developer who worked on the original iTunes Remote application for iOS devices, appears to show an intelligent universal remote on a generic Apple device that can connect to a variety of audio-visual components around the user's home or workplace. The system is also capable of connecting to various "smart home" devices such as thermostats, lights and window blinds using either a wireless network, Bluetooth or a a similar wireless protocol.

    According to the patent, Apple's system would allow users to control all of their connected devices, and would receive signals from each device based on its current operating state. The system proposed by Apple would automatically recognize each device, with data being transmitted over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a similar wireless protocol.

    The system can also detect individual usage patterns and tailor the components to individual requirements. The patent lists an example of a horror movie -- a user may want a certain combination of lighting -- and this would be recognised by the system. It can also search a list of pre-defined settings that best suits the genre and users will have the option to either accept or reject a suggestion. The patent also describes a system whereby users can stop and restart media when they move around the house -- for example, when they move to a room containing another television.

    Although the patent was filed back in September 2008, the technology has not yet been implemented on any iOS device. It would also require significant hardware and software commitments by the manufacturers of home audio and visual components, as well as the manufacturers of various "smart home" devices.

    Article Link: Apple Granted Patent on Intelligent Universal Remote System for iOS Devices
  2. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    I'd like to see something like this work. The word "Intelligent" is not usually associated with remotes :rolleyes:
  3. nostaws macrumors 6502


    Jan 14, 2006
    Unless I am missing something, I can't believe that they got a patent for this.
  4. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    This has all been done. I guess doing this over bluetooth instead of serial ports qualifies for a new patent?

    However, I've been waiting for a true remote system like this ever since the iPad was announced. Seems a giant killer in the control market, if the software is there.
  5. edoates macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2006
    Yeah, I think my AMX devices using iRidium on my iPads sort do much of this: communicate two ways with devices, set scenes based on macros and presets by communicating with entertainment and Lutron devices, run my HVAC (sort of ...), etc.

    Oh, well, let the patent wars continue ...

    I think I'll review that device for freshening bread using a high temperature heating element (a toaster that uses a high temp light bulb, otherwise known as an Easy Bake Oven for kids - yes someone patented that in the 1990's...)
  6. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
  7. BMcCoy macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    It's odd that there's still no IR output on the iPhone.
    A universal remote control app for tv, DVD, etc seems so obvious...

    Other smartphones have one.
  8. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    It says wifi, bluetooth, or similar. IR would not fit that, I think.
  9. tkatz macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2009
    Just one more thing to use up space in the phone…

    I like the external devices that have IR blasters. Like the harmony hub that comes standalone for use with mobile devices, and the one that comes with the remote that can be controlled by both the physical remote and mobile devices.

    More and more devices are starting to have built-in wifi/network control anyway.

    Though I do remember playing with the IR on my palm.. V I think? (or whatever version it was) It was fun.. for a day or two. I prefer physical remotes with tactile buttons.


    Why? Did you read the actual patent or just go by the summary? Is there anything that can capture the state of devices on the network, save the state, then return them back to that state later on? Anything before the patent was filed in 2008?

    This sounds a lot like what the Hue app does with lights. Except that the app still doesn't have support for saving the current configuration of the lights to a preset (even though the hub api supports it and there are many scripts written to do just that).
  10. ptb42 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 14, 2011
    You would be amazed at the things that are granted a patent.

    One of mine was also issued today. It has some additional claims that weren't granted when the original patent was issued a few years ago.

    I didn't even know about the new application (it was handled by my company and their attorney), but was surprised when they granted the additional claims.
  11. mdelvecchio macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2010
    awesome. bring it


    unless youre a patent attorney and working at apple, you probably are.
  12. Klae17 macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2011
    Did you read the patent?
  13. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Apple would probably sell a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth to IR blaster for $99.00. :)
  14. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    There have always been IR strength issues, from what I've seen. Radio signals of some sort are a much better fit for a phone or tablet, imo.
  15. 3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Already have it:

    Harmony Link

    There have been mixed reviews, however I have two running media rooms in my homes and haven't had one issue. The IR blaster works with my cable box, Mac Mini HTPC, Pioneer Elite AVR, Pioneer BD Player - not one hiccup. I got one for ~$89, the iOS app is great (very easy to use online GUI for creating macros). No need for media manufacturers to incorporate unnecessary hardware.
  16. osofast240sx macrumors 68030


    Mar 25, 2011
    It's odd that you would want to put 1970s Technology into a smart Phone
  17. Jibbajabba macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    So all devices I got (Amp / Receiver, TV, TiVo, and others) are 1970 devices ?

    PS3 has BT, but that's it. Even the Harmony has a bloody IR receiver.
  18. Kaibelf Suspended


    Apr 29, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Does it do this?
    "The patent lists an example of a horror movie -- a user may want a certain combination of lighting -- and this would be recognised by the system."

    It seems like you could go on the Apple device, scroll down to Silent Hill, and it'll set your surround sound settings, down the lighting to a specific ambient level, and maybe even turn down the air to reduce noise, all with one button push.
  19. 3282868, Aug 27, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013

    3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Actually, I can do that already.

    - Phillips Hue

    - Samsung LED 55"

    - Pioneer Elite AVR

    Use my iPad Mini or iPhone, set one touch buttons for media, done. Phillips Hue lights are used throughout main areas of my home, have made various one touch "recipes" along with Harmony link recipe controls for my media center. Hit one recipe for my lighting, then turn everything on and control it via Harmony Link. My Pioneer Elite AVR has various sound settings (although "Pure Direct" should be the mode any one uses for HTPC and BD's), and my Mac Mini is my HTPC, play media via iTunes or VLC on my Synology Media Server). I have a "Trane" HVAC system in my home, no need to "turn down" any A/C.

    Let's just take the basics:

    - Phillips Hue Hub and 3 Bulbs - $199.95
    - Harmony Link - $89.00

    Lights and media center controlled via already owned iDevice(s) and free app. Whether you use an AppleTV, Mac Mini or other media system, no need for tv, AVR, etc manufacturers to modify hardware.

  20. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Well, home automation systems using X10 or Insteon, for starters (not to mention other competing technologies by Lutron, Z-Wave, etc.) You could define scenes using home automation software like HomeSeer, and fire them off to customize your appliances on/off and dimmer levels for a variety of devices. You could set scenes off from handheld remotes, wall controllers, touch screens, timed schedules, triggers on sensor inputs (motion, dawn/dusk), etc. You could set up scenes to be fired from remote controls (like a Harmony or Pronto) to coincide with watching movies, so, for example, one button press on your smart remote or wall controller (perhaps labeled "Watch A Movie") would dim your lights, close your automated curtains/blinds, turn on your projector and Blu-Ray player, drop your electric screen, and set up the inputs on your amp. You'd program these scenes by either explicitly setting them in software or by capturing the state of each individual controller you're planning to use.

    Apple's got their own unique twist on this, sure, but the general concept has been around for a while.
  21. 3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Actually, it does save the configuration. Currently you can save the level and color of the lights, use or create an easy IFTTT recipe (the lights in my hallway turn blue when rain is expected - usually a good hours notice), set recipes that use specific lights and at a specific color and level. With geofencing, it's great to activate lights based on location(s).


  22. tkatz macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2009
    I wasn't aware there was a way to save the current level and color of the lights in the app. I set the color temperature directly via the api and would like to be able to simply "save" that as a scene in the hue app. I can see what the current lights are set at but haven't been able to figure out how to simply save them (other then creating a new scene and having to guesstimate where they were). The IFTTT stuff is nice, but I'm not really interested using it.
  23. osofast240sx macrumors 68030


    Mar 25, 2011
    Apple plans to revolutionize the living room. I don't think it IR is in the equation. If it were it will be very very disappointing.
  24. Iconoclysm macrumors 68020


    May 13, 2010
    Washington, DC
    Hmm, better get rid of TCP/IP
  25. macs4nw macrumors 601


    This could be the next frontier to be conquered, if not competed in by Apple: home automation. With their millions of iOS devices, seems like a no-brainer.

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24 August 27, 2013