Logitech Files Patent for Remote Control On-Screen Display
Logitech's patent application for universal remote control shows TV display with dynamic menus that change based on status of A/V devices.
Julie Jacobson · November 8, 2012
Logitech is well known for its Harmony remote control, which monitors the on/off state of audio video devices (TVs, receivers, DVD players, etc.) and makes “decisions” based on the status.
Now Logitech is taking this dynamic interface to the TV display, filing a patent for a “Remote Control System for Connected Devices.”
The patent describes an on-screen display (OSD) in which the control options default to the most likely command - for example, MUTE, ON, OFF, PLAY, PAUSE, FAST FORWARD - based on the status of a device.
For example, if a DVD is playing and the user opens up the OSD, the PAUSE button might be highlighted as the default so that the user need only press a single button, rather than scroll to the right command. The display would also show the other commands associated with DVD playing.
The patent application points to “problems with conventional universal remote controls that make them less desirable for consumers.”
For example, many universal remote controls have a large number of buttons, many of which may never be used, since the manufacturers attempt to have physical buttons for each possible command of each possible electronic device. Additionally, even when large numbers of buttons are included in the remote, the programming and compatibility of the remote with new devices are often limited.
Naturally, higher-end touchscreen remotes (and iDevice-based remotes) are typically configured so that only the relevant buttons appear on any given screen, but many users don’t like to take their eyes off the TV in order to control it.
Furthermore, consumers are increasingly accustomed to OSD-based graphical user interfaces (GUI) such as Roku’s and Apple TV’s, Big remotes with multiple buttons and touchscreens are being replaced with tiny devices featuring just a few buttons and maybe a scroll wheel.
I don’t know of any existing universal remote controls for the mass market that rely expressly on an OSD for operating A/V devices.
Will we see one from Harmony? Time will tell.
Below is a small portion of the patent application. Check out the entire, filed on November 1, 2012.
Some of the illustrations included in the application can be found in this Logitech slideshow.
 In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of universal remote controls now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a remote control system that uses microprocessor and communication functions onboard a display device, such as a television (TV), to allow a user to control multiple devices via a user interface (UI) presented by the display device. This may be accomplished, for example, using a relatively low-cost remote control that operates the TV, or the like, and provides minimal UI navigation functionality.
 Objects of the invention may include the delivery of a full universal remote control solution for devices, applications and content at minimum cost by combining an on-TV UI with a dedicated controller or a standard TV remote with at least one button that is operable to access the on-TV UI. In some embodiments, the on-TV UI may be accessed in other ways, such as through an application executing on a mobile device or tablet computing device.
 Aspects of the invention may reduce controller complexity by off-loading functionality to an on-TV overlay as well as reduce usage complexity by applying contextual awareness to provide the most relevant options to the user.
 According to first aspects of the invention, a remote control system is provided including a display device with a video display, a processor configured to interact with a remote control, and a communication apparatus configured for communicating with one or more other devices. In embodiments, the display device may be, for example, a TV including a tuner, audio-visual (AV), high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI), and/or separate video (S-Video) inputs, and, generally, any interface for communicating with another device. The display device may also include wireless communication capabilities, such as WI-FI, BlueTooth, and other capabilities. The display device may also support various web-streaming and web browsing modes and, generally, may receive information over a physical wire, fiber optic cable, wirelessly, and/or otherwise.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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