Archives For Remotes

Just about everybody and their mom has been applying for (bizarre) DVR-related patents lately. Today I’ll spotlight IBM, who wants to own the rights of presenting “instant replay” content within a window. But wait, that’s not all… if you order now, they’ll also store that video right on your remote control’s “non-volatile” memory! And I don’t know why…

IBM says: The invention provides systems, apparatus and methods for recording a television broadcast, and a retrospective section of the record. These enable a television viewer to use a television control to select and store a retrospective section of a recorded television channel, while watching the channel. The retrospective section typically comprises a section of the channel that has just been watched by the viewer, so that an immediate replay of the retrospective section corresponds to an “instant” replay. An example method includes the steps of generating a record of the television broadcast, and operating a television remote control to select from the record, while viewing the television broadcast, a retrospective section of the record. The method further may include storing the retrospective section in the television remote control.

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Lucent’s DVR Sleep Detector

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2006

Lucent brainiacs have filed a patent application for a DVR sleep detector. They envision a DVR-integrated “apparatus” which pauses TV playback once an individual has fallen asleep. Upon regaining consciousness, DVR playback resumes. The application covers both video surveillance and physiological monitoring to determine wakefulness. No word on how they’ll handle those risqué folks who watch TV together.

Lucent says:
[0011] The sleep detector may comprise an electronic camera for forming images of the viewer, and pattern recognition means connected to the electronic camera to monitor the physical condition of the viewer. For example, the pattern recognition means determine whether the viewer’s eyes are open or shut. The apparatus may further include logic means connected to receive output from the pattern recognition means to distinguish normal blinking from the onset of sleep.

[0012] Alternatively, the sleep detector may comprise a device wearable by the viewer for monitoring the physical condition of the viewer. For example, the wearable device may include one or more of an accelerometer, a heat flux sensor, a galvanic skin response sensor, a skin temperature sensor and a near-body ambient temperature sensor.

[0013] The sleep detector may be connected to the digital video recorder via direct electrical connection or via a remote-control type interface.

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Wow, this sure came out of left field. TiVo has applied for a patent allowing customization of remotes and PVRs based on personalized preferences provided via RFID. They describe a variety of scenarios and hardware such as providing customized hotel television viewing and adopting the technology within mobile multimedia devices. No telling when or if this will ever make it to market.

US Patent Application says: A multimedia mobile personalization system provides a remote control that detects a user’s electronic tag, e.g. an RFID tag. The remote control notifies a multimedia device of the user’s identity. The multimedia devices tailors it operations to the user’s preferences stored locally. Multimedia content such as broadcast or recorded television programs, music play lists, and the like could be sorted, displayed, or restricted, depending on the user identifier.

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Harmony 360 For Xbox

Dave Zatz —  November 14, 2005

Harmony 360

Logitech has revealed a Harmony remote customized for the upcoming Xbox 360. The remote carries forward the new form introduced with the Harmony 520, but has added a row of Xbox-specific function keys mapped to X, Y, A, B. The display has also been tweaked with new green backlighting that appears to make text more legible. The remote is expected to drop this month for $130.

Logitech says: With the Harmony remote, there´s no need to juggle remote controls or press a dozen buttons to set up a TV, home-theater receiver, and Xbox 360 for gaming. When people push one button on the Harmony remote, the Xbox 360 and all of the appropriate electronics components are set to the required state for game play. Special console-specific buttons on the Harmony remote make it easy to navigate the Xbox 360 interface. The remote´s white finish, chrome accents, cool green backlighting and ultra-slim design complement the understated but sophisticated design of the Xbox 360.

Logitech Harmony 520 In The Flesh

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2005

Harmony 520Logitech has begun shipping the new Harmony 520 to select Walmarts, which resulted in numerous phone calls and a distant quest to two stores. Why Walmart you ask? Logitech is aiming squarely down market with this $99 model – and I’ve concluded the cost corresponds directly to the number of buttons.

The main differences between the 520 and the 6xx line are obviously the the new physical design, dropping the hard coded activity buttons along with many others, and the introduction of new software – for under a hundred bucks.

As with other models, Harmony remotes are configured online using a web-based wizard with your custom settings being downloaded via USB into the remote. The 520 is the first in the Harmony line using updated configuration and connectivity software. Logitech promises this will eventually be available to all Harmony devices – in fact it is currently willing to configure my old 659, though I haven’t tried. Keeping with the Harmony way, you program your remote using activities. For example a Watch DVD activity might turn on your TV, switch the input source, turn on the DVD player, and dim your Lutron lights. Soft buttons listed in the LCD allow for an unlimited amount of function keys.
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PSP As Whole Home Remote

Dave Zatz —  September 20, 2005

SkipJam on PSPIf you happen to own SkipJam’s iMedia Center, you can harness the power of the your PSP as a whole-home remote control. SkipJam’s software utilizes the browser provided with 2.0 firmware and an Internet connection to provide a customized remote control interface. Sounds neat, but it’s nothing more than a low-resolution web page generated by SkipJam’s overpriced hardware.

SkipJam says: Using the PSP’s browser and internet connection, SkipJam iMedia users can now control any device in their home. The SkipJam iMedia software provides custom web pages which allow the PSP to function as a wireless remote for TVs, DVDs, Stereos, lighting and other consumer electronics throughout the home.