Apple patent turns iPhone into a Smart Home and Media Center Remote Control


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for an “intelligent” remote control system that can connect to and control various electronic devices, save your preferred states for each of these devices as “scenes” and restore them at anytime.

The patent is titled “Systems and methods for saving and restoring scenes in a multimedia system” and here’s the patent abstract:

Systems and methods for saving and restoring scenes in a multimedia system with minimal configuration. The techniques of the invention can allow the states of the components in the multimedia system to be captured in a scene. Once the scene has been saved, the scene can be restored at a later time. A remote control system for recommending scenes by comparing states of components in the current scene with states of components in saved scenes is also provided. The remote control system can also recommend scenes based on usage patterns. Moreover, the remote control system can allow users to designate one or more saved scenes as favorite scenes.

Apple’s idea is to hide away the complexities associated with setting up and controlling various multimedia devices and “smart home” equipments like lights, thermostats etc. in “scenes,” and letting users interact with these scenes rather than directly controlling individual equipments.


The system additionally recommends “scenes” based on usage patterns as well as current states of surrounding devices. So, for instance, if you’re watching a horror movie on your TV, the system may recommend light and sound levels accordingly.

Another very useful feature described in the patent is the system’s capability to pause a video when you move away from one TV, and to resume it right from there when you move to a different TV.

The system described is capable of recognising, connecting, controlling and interacting with each device over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or any other wireless medium.

The patent was filed way back in 2008 by Alan Cannistraro, the same Apple developer who worked on Apple’s Remote app. Though it’s been half-a-decade since the patent was filed, Apple still hasn’t brought the technology described here to iOS devices. We’re guessing it must have been pretty hard for the company to work with manufacturers to create a standard way to communicate with devices.

Apple had previously filed a patent for touchscreen universal remote with an inbuilt “discovery mechanism” that would detect nearby devices using Bluetooth.

[USPTO via Apple Insider]

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