A future Apple remote could control an Apple TV set-top box, other devices

A newly granted Apple patent (number 10,912,136) for “controlling electronic devices based on wireless ranging” that shows the tech giant is at least considering a remote that could control not only an Apple TV set-top box, but other devices.

It would allow you to control an Apple TV-connected television, radios, HomePods, Mac, and apparently even iPads and iPhones by gestures. I’m not sure why I’d need to do this with an iOS or iPadOS device, but, in the patent filing, Apple says the usefulness of many electronic devices, including portable electronic devices (including smartphones), is often at least partially defined by the ease of use, mainly the user interface.

Apple says that, however, there are limitations associated with existing user interfaces, especially the user interfaces for small, handheld electronic devices. For example, many existing user interfaces are constrained by the need for the user to activate or turn on an electronic device. Then, the user may need to make physical contact with the user interface, such as is the case with user interfaces displayed on touch-sensitive displays. 

Apple says that “many existing user interfaces produce frustrating user interactions, which can degrade the user experience” and apparently thinks wireless, gesture controls are the answer.

Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “A wireless communication device may wirelessly control an object, such as a physical device, directly or through interaction with a virtual representation (or placeholder) of the object situated at a predefined physical location. In particular, the wireless communication device may identify an intent gesture performed by a user that indicates intent to control the object. For example, the intent gesture may involve pointing or orienting the wireless communication device toward the object, with or without additional input. 

“Then, the wireless communication device may determine the object associated with the intent gesture using wireless ranging and/or device orientation. Moreover, the wireless communication device may interpret sensor data from one or more sensors associated with the wireless communication device to determine an action gesture corresponding to a command or a command value. The wireless communication device may then transmit the command value to control the object.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.