Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cut Your Remote According to Your Sloth

I was reading a new patent application (app: 20060212913; published: 21 Sep, 2006) about a remote control that uses networks/channels instead of numbers. The twist to this patent is simple — the network-to-number conversion table resides in the set-top box instead of the remote.

Initially I thought this idea was a non-starter. My first thought? How can you fit that many network buttons on a remote? But then I thought about it. Niche remotes. Customizable remotes. OK. It might work. Maybe viewers can create personal remotes like the remobeads (via Gizmodo), shown below.

My second thought? Who puts the conversion table in the set-top box? I can see viewers programming the remote themselves, but I can't see a local cable company maintaining the conversion table unless they can make some cash.

And that led me to my third thought. What if your local cable company sold or leased niche remotes, such as child-friendly remotes? Imagine a remote that has logos for PBS, Disney, Nick, Nick Toon, Discovery Kids, the Noggin, and a few others so kids can easily find what they're looking for. Imagine a remote that requires a special combination of button pushes to turn it on so that adults are in control. Imagine a remote that has an internal timer so adults can pre-set viewing time. Imagine a remote that automatically disables the channel up/down buttons on the set-top box so curious children can't find ways of watching things they shouldn't.

Who knows, maybe this patent will be worth something.

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