Apple has shown interest in building a new, simplified remote control that would automatically control a variety of devices while reducing setup and frustration for the user.
The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled “Apparatus and Method to Facilitate Universal Remote Control,” it describes a touchscreen-based controller that would reduce the confusing clutter found on current universal remotes.
The filing notes that current remotes have a large number of buttons and switches to control the functions of a device, and while those buttons are necessary to control all of the functions, the average user typically only uses a handful of the buttons.
“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,” the filing notes.
It also details how current universal remotes are even more complex to operate than the basic remotes that ship with specific devices, like a television set or receiver. And often times, those universal remotes cannot replicate some of the tasks found on the original remote.
“Hence, users must spend time learning a new remote control or programming an existing universal remote each time they purchase a new remotely controllable appliance, which detracts from the enjoyment of using the appliance after it is first purchased,” Apple’s application states. “What is needed is an apparatus and a method to provide remote control over multiple appliances without the difficulties described above.”
Apple’s proposed solution is a remote control with a dynamic touchscreen used for input. The remote would include a “discovery mechanism” that would discover available appliances for it to control, negating the need for users to enter complex codes and program individual devices.