Back in October, 2006 Apple filed a patent application for a ‘Search user interface for media device’ which describes a search interface on a media device, which sure sounds like an Apple TV variant, with a remote control which resembles an iPod Nano with the click-wheel interface. Here’s the abstract:
A search menu includes a search input field and input characters rendered on a multi-dimensional displacement surface that rotates in response to a user input. A highlight region intersects the multi-dimensional displacement surface and highlights input characters while the input characters intersect the highlight region according to the rotation of the multi-dimensional displacement surface.
Don’t you love patent-ese? But perhaps the most interesting aspect are the images included with the patent. They show what looks very much like a TV Guide-style EPG for live TV.
AppleInsider uncovered the patent application, and they have some of the images posted in their write-up. It is easier to see them there than in the US Patent Office interface. Interestingly, the remote is meant to be a fairly intelligent device, with a display and local storage. It would download the EPG data so that you could take the remote with you and decide what to record, and then when you returned it to the device it would sync and setup the recordings. That seems pretty complex, and frankly of questionable utility, for a remote – but it does make more sense if the ‘remote’ could be a real iPod, doesn’t it?
The filing also includes a hybrid search which would search both the EPG data and the iTunes store for content – which sounds just like TiVo’s Universal Swivel Search, which searches the local EPG, as well as broadband content from TiVoCast and Amazon Unbox.
As with all patent applications, this doesn’t mean Apple is actually working on a product that does this, just that they had the idea and felt it was worth patenting – just in case they decide to do it, or someone else does and they want to collect licensing. But the lack of DVR functionality is the glaring omission from Apple TV, so many people expect that Apple will address that at some point.
Picked up from CNET News.com.