Easy to use and intuitive user interface for a remote control

Easy to use and intuitive user interface for a remote control
USOO8742905B2
(12) United States Patent
(10) Patent No.:
Sekhri et al.
(54)
(75)
(45) Date of Patent:
4,287,676 A
9/1981 Weinhaus
INTERFACE FORA REMOTE CONTROL
4,377,870 A
4,392,022 A
3/1983 Anderson et a1~
7/1983 Carlson
Inventors: Boualem Sekhri, Mississauga (CA);
4,394,691 A
7/1983 Amano et 31~
(73) Assignee: Logitech Europe S.A., Lausanne (CH)
(Continued)
FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
AU
AU
Notice:
4/1992
1/2002
-
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
(commued)
( ) y
ays
.
Appl' NO': 11/864’242
(22) Filed:
66267/90
200169851 A1
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
U.S.C. 154 b b 710 d
(21)
Jun. 3, 2014
EASY TO USE AND INTUITIVE USER
Barbara Glover, Toronto (CA); Alex
Zaliauskas, Ontario (CA); Mathew
Bates, Blackrock (IE)
(*)
US 8,742,905 B2
Ciarcia, S., “Build a Trainable Infrared Master Controller,” Byte,
Sep. 28, 2007
_
(65)
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
12(3): “3423 (1987)
_
_
(Continued)
Prior Publication Data
US 2008/0302582 A1
Dec. 11, 2008
Primary Examiner * Vernal Brown
Related U-s-APPlicatiOIl Data
(63) Continuation of application No. 09/804,623, ?led on
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm *Kilpatrick Townsend &
StOthOn LLP
Mar. 12, 2001, now abandoned.
(60)
Provisional application No. 60/189,487, ?led on Mar.
15, 2000.
(51)
Int. Cl.
G08C 19/16
(52)
US. Cl.
(58)
(2006-01)
(57)
ABSTRACT
A system and method for an easy to use and intuitive user
interface on a remote control. In one embodiment, a touch
sensitive area is extended beyond a screen. In one embodi
ment, soft buttons lie partially on the screen and partially off
USPC ....................................................... .. 340/125
it (on the extended touch-sensitive area), This allows for an
Field of Classi?cation Search
increased input area for the user, Without the increase in cost
USPC ---------------- -- 340/82522, 10-1, 12-5, 561, 4-3;
_ _
345/173, 168
associated with a larger screen. Moreover, this allows for a
smooth, ?at, and sleek upper surface of the remote control. In
see apphcanon ?le for complete searCh hlstOI'Y_
(56)
References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
one embodiment, a remote control provides different user
experiences based upon the context of use of the remote
control. For instance, the color of the screen as well as the
color of backlighting for certain buttons is dependent upon
what mode the remote control is in.
3,597,531
3,990,012
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4,231,031
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23 Claims, 8 Drawing Sheets
US 8,742,905 B2
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2006/0125800
2006/0132458
2006/0143572
2006/0150120
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US. Patent
Jun. 3, 2014
Sheet 1 0f8
US 8,742,905 B2
Screen
/ 110
\110
Extended touch
sensitive area
Hard Buttons
> 130
FIG. 1
US. Patent
Jun. 3, 2014
Sheet 2 0f8
US 8,742,905 B2
Capacitive
Touchpad
120
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210
PCB
FIG. 2A
3-;
Top Case
205
Resistive
Touchpad
Q
120
LCD 110 \
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PCB
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Jun. 3, 2014
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1
2
EASY TO USE AND INTUITIVE USER
INTERFACE FOR A REMOTE CONTROL
such remote controls are the Harmony® remotes from Log
itech, Inc. (Fremont, Calif.), the assignee of the present inven
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
tion.
As more and more sophisticated functionality gets
included in a single remote, there is a need to provide the users
with more options on the remote. One way in which this is
This application relates to co-pending application Ser. No.
11/199,922, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Uploading
and Downloading Remote Control Codes” ?led on Aug. 8,
handled is by including additional hard buttons on the remote
control. In light of the desire for a small and compact form
2005, and is a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/804,623
?led Mar. 12, 2001, now abandoned which claims the bene?t
the remote control, as well as to increased user confusion in
of provisional application No. 60/189,487 ?led Mar. 15,
2000. These applications are herein incorporated by reference
in their entirety.
This application relates to co-pending application Ser. No.
10/839,970, entitled “Online Remote Control Con?guration
System”, ?led on May 5, 2004, and is a continuation of
application Ser. No. 09/804,623 ?led Mar. 12, 2001, which
claims the bene?t of provisional application No. 60/ 189,487
?led Mar. 15, 2000. These applications are herein incorpo
rated by reference in their entirety.
factor for remote controls, this leads to increased clutter on
dealing with numerous buttons. Further, all such buttons are
not useable at all times, but it is not clear to the user which
buttons are useable at any given time. Moreover, numerous
buttons on a remote control take away from a sleek and ?at
form factor, which is becoming increasingly important to
users. Another way in which this is handled is by having an
LCD screen displaying choices to the user, but the remote
control then needs additional buttons to select/navigate
through those choices, thus leading to further clutter on the
20
remote control. A touch screen has been used in some cases,
but this either results in clutter and confusion on the screen, or
in a larger LCD which leads in turn to increased cost. More
over, existing touch screens do not provide a smooth, ?at look
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
for the control device. Also, existing remotes with touch
25
There is thus a need for a more intuitive and easy to con
?gure and use user interface on remote controls. Further there
is a need for such an interface without increased user confu
face, and more particularly, to an easy to use and intuitive user
interface for remote controls.
2. Description of the Related Art
Home entertainment systems are becoming increasingly
30
entertainment system. Using multiple remotes, each speci?c
sion and without increased cost. Moreover, there is need for a
user interface where users have some indication regarding the
use of various modes/buttons. Further still, there is a need for
complex. A representative user will often have a TV, a DVD
player, a VCR, a stereo receiver, and so on as part of his home
to a particular appliance, is very cumbersome and inconve
nient to a user. A complicated sequence of multiple button
presses on multiple remote controls is often needed for the
user to accomplish a simple task.
To address this problem, universal remote controls have
screens and/ or soft buttons are not easy and intuitive to con
?gure.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to an improved user inter
a user interface that allows for a ?at, smooth and sleek form
factor for the remote control.
35
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
40
The present invention is a system and method for an intui
tive and easy to con?gure and use user interface (UI) on a
remote control. A device in accordance with some embodi
become available on the market. Such universal remote con
trols can control several devices. While such remote controls
ments of the present invention overall simpli?es the user’s
manage to reduce the clutter associated with multiple device
speci?c remote controls, they are still inconvenient to use.
In one embodiment of the present invention, a touch sen
sitive area is extended beyond a screen. In one embodiment,
Most such universal remote controls have a button for each
experience.
45
soft buttons lie partially on the screen and partially off it (on
the extended touch-sensitive area). This allows for an
increased input area for the user, without the increase in cost
associated with a larger screen. Moreover, this allows for a
smooth, ?at, and sleek upper surface of the remote control.
50
The mapping/functionality of the soft buttons is downloaded,
device, which needs to be pressed before that device can be
operated. For instance, a user may need to press a “TV”
button, and then the “power” button on the remote control to
turn on the TV, then press a “Receiver” button, and then the
“power” button on the remote control to turn on the stereo
receiver. The user would also need to select the correct mode
in one embodiment, from a remote database.
In one embodiment of the present invention, a remote
for the stereo receiver to provide audio from the DVD player
to the speakers. Next, the user would need to press a “DVD”
button, and then the “power” button on the remote control to
turn on the DVD player. The play button can be used to start
control provides different user experiences based upon the
55
playing the DVD. For simple things such as increasing the
volume on the receiver, the user would need to press the
“Receiver” button again before pressing the “Volume” but
watching TV, watching a DVD, listening to music, etc. The
ton. It can be seen that albeit with one universal remote
control, numerous steps still need to be taken by the user for
even very simple activities.
Another evolution in remote controls emerged in response
to this need. Such remote controls were activity based remote
60
particular con?guration of their home entertainment systems,
and then to simply select the desired activity. Examples of
device mode may allow a user to select a particular device to
control, such as the TV, the DVD player, the stereo receiver,
the DVR (Digital Video Recorder), and so on. In accordance
with an embodiment of the device mode, from the device
controls, which permitted users to con?gure simple activities
such as “Watching TV”, “Watching a DVD” etc., based on the
context of use of the remote control (e.g., which mode the
remote control is in). For instance, a remote control may have
different modes, such as an activity mode, a device mode, and
an options/ settings mode. The activity mode may allow a user
to select from one of several precon?gured activities, such as
mode, a user can access all the commands associated with a
65
speci?c device, as compared to the activity mode, where only
the most applicable commands for a device are displayed. The
settings mode may allow a user to change speci?c settings, the
US 8,742,905 B2
3
4
con?gurations of various activities, and so on. One of the
modes of the remote control (e. g., the activity mode) may be
noted that similar or like reference numbers in the ?gures may
indicate similar or like functionality. One of skill in the art
a desired or default mode of the remote control, while another
will readily recognize from the following discussion that
mode (e.g., the device mode) may not be favored. In accor
dance with an embodiment of the present invention, the user
interface can provide the user with cues/indications regarding
alternative embodiments of the structures and methods dis
closed herein may be employed without departing from the
principles of the invention(s) herein.
this. In one embodiment, an undesired mode has an amber
colored screen, while a desired mode has a blue colored
FIG. 1 shows a remote control 100 in accordance with an
embodiment of the present invention. The remote control
screen. Additionally, certain soft and/or hard buttons may be
backlit differently when in different modes. Such context
dependent visual cues prevent user confusion, and leads to
increased clarity for the user about what he/ she is doing.
includes a screen 110, an extended touch-sensitive area 120
including some soft buttons, and several hard buttons 130.
The screen 110 (denoted by the smaller dashed rectangle)
is sensitive to a user’s touch. The screen can use any display
In one embodiment of the present invention, the user is
provided with an indication of when certain buttons and/or
technology, and can be, for example, a Liquid Crystal Display
(LCD). The user can touch any of the options, such as “Watch
other areas of the user interface are useable. For instance, the
TV” to trigger the action corresponding to that option.
functionality associated with certain buttons may not be
available in a speci?c mode, or when in a speci?c menu. In
such a situation, in accordance with an embodiment of the
present invention, some indication is provided to the user
regarding when the buttons (or other areas of the user inter
face) are useable. For instance, in one embodiment, a button
has a lit-up white bar under its label only when the button is
useable. Again, this provides increased clarity to the user
regarding his options, and reduces user confusion.
The features and advantages described in this summary and
the following detailed description are not all-inclusive, and
In accordance with an embodiment of the present inven
tion, the touch-sensitive area 120 (denoted by the larger
20
dashed rectangle) extends beyond the screen 110. This can be
seen clearly in FIG. 2A.
FIG. 2A shows the various layers associated with the touch
sensitive area 120 in accordance with an embodiment of the
present invention. The top case 205 of the remote control
covers the touch-sensitive area 120. In one embodiment, the
25
particularly, many additional features and advantages will be
apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the
part of the top case 205 that is covering the screen 110 is
transparent (or translucent), so as to make the screen 110
visible to the user. This transparent (or translucent) part acts
as a lens covering the screen 110. In one embodiment, the
drawings, speci?cation, and claims hereof. Moreover, it
touch-sensitive area 120 is coupled to the underside of the
lens/top case 205. In one embodiment, the touch-sensitive
area 120 is glued to the underside of the lens/top case 205. The
should be noted that the language used in the speci?cation has
been principally selected for readability and instructional
purposes, and may not have been selected to delineate or
touch-sensitive area 120 can be based on any touch sensing
circumscribe the inventive subject matter, resort to the claims
being necessary to determine such inventive subject matter.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
35
technology. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2A, capacitive
touch-sensitive technology is implemented. An example of
such touch-sensitive technology is implemented in various
products from Synaptics (Santa Clara, Calif.), such as a
TouchPad. In such an embodiment, the touch-sensitive area
The invention has other advantages and features which will
be more readily apparent from the following detailed descrip
tion of the invention and the appended claims, when taken in
120 is responsive to the user’s touch, and localized pressure
(such as with a stylus) is not necessary. In some such embodi
ments, the touch-sensitive area 120 has a form factor which
conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 shows a remote control in accordance with an 40 permits integration with the other components (such as the
embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2A shows the various layers associated with the touch
sensitive area in a remote control in accordance with an
embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2B shows the touch sensitive area in a remote control
employing resistive technology.
45
FIG. 3 illustrates the display on the LCD in accordance
with an embodiment of the present invention when the hard
button labeled “Activities” is pressed on the remote control.
FIG. 2B illustrates an embodiment with a touch-sensitive
area employing resistive technology. For some embodiments
employing resistive touch-sensitive technology, the touch
FIG. 4A shows some screens the user can go to from the
“Activities” screen in one embodiment of the present inven
50
tion.
FIG. 5 shows some backlighting zones in accordance with
an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a system used to con?gure the
remote control in accordance with an embodiment of the
55
60
present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
65
The ?gures (or drawings) depict a preferred embodiment
of the present invention for purposes of illustration only. It is
sensitive area 120 cannot be covered by the top case 205,
since the user’s ?nger (or other touch modalities such as a
stylus) needs to press on the touch-sensitive area 120. As a
result, the top case 205 has a hole cut in it as seen in it, as can
FIG. 4B provides another example of various possible
screen navigation paths in accordance with an embodiment of
the present invention.
FIG. 4C provides yet another example of screen navigation
paths in accordance with an embodiment of the present inven
tion.
LCD 110 and the PCB 210) to provide a smooth upper surface
of the remote control 100. In some embodiment, with capaci
tive touch-sensitive technology, the user does not need to
touch the touch-sensitive area directlyirather, he/ she can
simply touch the top case 205 (and/or the lens area of the top
case 205).
be seen in FIG. 2B. However, this takes away from the
smooth, sleek and ?at look that is often desired by users.
Below the touch-sensitive area 120 is the screen/ LCD 110.
It can be seen clearly from FIG. 2A that the area of the
touch-sensitive area 110 is larger than the area of the LCD
110. The LCD 110 is, in turn, coupled to the PCB 210 placed
underneath it.
Having a touch-sensitive area larger than the screen is
advantageous for at least the following reasons. Having a
touch-sensitive area 120 larger than the screen 110 allows for
a smaller LCD (than if the LCD had been as large as the
touch-sensitive area). Since the size of an LCD impacts cost,
having a relatively smaller LCD implies a reduction in cost.
Without the increased expense associated with a larger LCD,
US 8,742,905 B2
5
6
the larger touch-sensitive area provides for additional area
where the user can provide his or her input. Such extended
touch-sensitive areas also allow for soft buttons that whose
associated with 140d will not be visible in one embodiment.
In another embodiment, when there is no previous page (or
next page) to view, the arrow associated with 1400 (or 140d)
functionality and labels can be changed easily. Furthermore,
is shown in dotted lines. In another embodiment, the pages are
circularly linked, such that when the user is on the ?rst page,
pressing the “Previous Page” button will take the user to the
last page, and when the user is on the last page, pressing the
“Next Page” button will take the user to the ?rst page. In such
touch-sensitive soft buttons provide for a much smoother,
?atter and sleeker top surface of the remote control 100, than
is possible with traditional solutions (such as having buttons
operating mechanical switches under changeable labels on an
LCD).
an embodiment, both the arrows are visible even on the ?rst
Below the touchpad 120 is a Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
and last pages. Such visual indications guide the user and
simplify the usage of the remote by decreasing user confu
210. The PCB 210 can more generally be any substrate that
can be used to mechanically support and electrically connect
electronic components using conductive pathways. It can be
seen from FIG. 2A that the LCD 110 is coupled to the PCB
sion. As mentioned above, in one embodiment, the backlight
ing of such soft buttons 1400 and 140d can be used to provide
the user with visual cues. This is discussed further below with
reference to FIG. 5.
FIG. 3 illustrates a screen 310 which illustrates the display
on the LCD 110 in accordance with an embodiment of the
210. In one embodiment, the touch-sensitive area 120 is also
connected to the PCB 210 via a connector (e.g., FPC). It will
be obvious to one of skill in the art that several other compo
nents (e.g., processors) will be included (not shown).
Referring again to FIG. 1, it can be seen that there are two
soft buttons 140a, 1401). The labels for these soft buttons 140a
20
present invention when the hard button labeled “Activities”
13011 on the remote control 100 is pressed. Various activities
created by the user, such as “Watch TV”, “Watch a DVD”,
& 14019 are on the LCD 110. In FIG. 1, these labels are
“Listen to Radio” etc. are shown on the LCD 110. If addi
“Options” and “Devices” respectively. There are several
notable features about these soft buttons 140a & 14019. First,
tional activities (e. g., “Play CD”, “Watch VCR” etc.) are
con?gured by the user and these do not ?t on the ?rst page of
the display 110, then the user can see these activities (not
these labels as well as the presentation of the buttons them
selves can vary depending upon speci?c implementations,
and also depending upon the speci?c mode, or stage within a
mode, in which the remote control 100 is at any given time. In
25
displayed on the screen 110 as indicator 312. It can be seen
some modes and/or levels within a mode, one or more of these
soft buttons may not have any functionality. In such a situa
tion, there is no label visible for the soft button in one embodi
ment of the present invention. Not having a label when a
30
particular soft button cannot be operated provides the user
with visual cues regarding what buttons he can/cannot use,
and prevents user confusion.
Further, in one embodiment, these buttons are distributed
backlighting of the buttons, their labels, and the lines (or bars)
from FIG. 3 that this page is showing the ?rst of 3 pages. In
one embodiment, if there is only one page, this indicator 312
will be removed. In one embodiment, a battery life indicator
314 is also displayed. In one embodiment, a day or date and
time indicator 316 is also displayed. In FIG. 3, soft button
14011 has the label “Options” and soft button 140!) has the
35
across the LCD 110 and the touch-sensitive area 120 extend
ing beyond the LCD. In one embodiment, the labels are on the
LCD, while the lines underneath the labels (which can be seen
in FIG. 1) are not on the LCD. In another embodiment, both
the label and the white line underneath it are on the LCD 110,
but the soft button itself extends under the LCD 110, so that
the user’s ?nger can be outside of the LCD and the soft button
can still be operated.
Another notable feature about these soft buttons is the
shown) by pressing the next page button 140d. The speci?c
page being displayed out of the total no. of pages available is
40
label “Devices”. While the embodiment shown in FIG. 3
shows a broad white bar underneath the label, in other
embodiments, there may simply be a narrower white line
underneath the label as shown in FIG. 1. In still other embodi
ments, there may not be anything underneath the label at all.
It will be obvious to one of skill in the art that the represen
tation of the soft button (and its label) can be varied.
In one embodiment, selecting “Options” 140a shows on
the display 320 the functions available for adjusting the
45
remote control 100. In the embodiment shown, the functions
available for adjusting the remote control 100 are “Remote
Assistant” 322, “Tutorial” 324 and “SlideShow” 326. In one
underneath the labels. This is discussed in greater detail with
embodiment, the “Remote Assistant” 322 provides additional
reference to FIG. 5.
Two other soft buttons 1400 and 140d can also be seen in
FIG. 1. In one embodiment, soft buttons 1400 and 140d do not
have any labels, but are represented instead by a left arrow and
a right arrow respectively. In one embodiment, these arrows
assistance to the user when they start and stop an activity. For
instance, the Remote Assistant 322 may ask a user if he/she
successfully turned on the Watch TV activity and asks the
50
user to press help if there was a problem. In one embodiment,
pressing “Tutorial” 324 results in the display of a short step by
are on the LCD 110. In such a situation, these arrows can be
step tutorial on the LCD 110 regarding how to use the remote
changed to any other label (textual and/or symbolic) as
control. In one embodiment, pressing the “SlideShow” 326
button results in the display of a slideshow of user uploaded
needed. In another embodiment, these arrows are not on the
LCD. The arrow symbols are only examples, and any other
text and/or symbols can be used.
As mentioned above in the context of the other soft buttons,
soft buttons 1400 and 140d also provide visual indications to
55
the user regarding their functionality. As one example, when
one or more of these buttons is not useable, the corresponding
arrow symbol itself may not be visible. In another embodi
ment, when one or more of these buttons is not useable, the
button is not backlit. In one embodiment, soft buttons 1400
60
pages. For instance, other options can include “Date & Time”
and “Remote Sound On/ Off ’.
and 140d provide the functionality of “Previous Page” and
“Next Page” respectively. When there is no previous page to
view, the arrow associated with 1400 will not be visible in one
embodiment. When there is no next page to view, the arrow
images on the remote control’s LCD 110. It can be seen that
soft button 14011 is now labeled “Activities” and has the
function of taking the user back to the Activities screen 310.
It can also be seen that soft button 140!) is no longer available
on this screen 320. The label, as well as the line underneath it,
are no longer visible. As mentioned above in the context of
screen 310, this screen too can be distributed across multiple
Selecting “Devices” 140!) will take the user to the screen
65
330. This screen displays the user’s devices, such as “TV”,
“DVD player”, “Receiver” etc. Once again, the information
may be distributed across multiple pages. This screen 330 can
US 8,742,905 B2
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7
FIG. 4B provides another example of various possible
be used by the user to individually control any one of his
screen navigation paths in accordance with an embodiment of
the present invention. Selecting the “Watch a DVD” activity
various devices. Here, the soft button 14011 is again con?g
ured to take the user back to the “Activities” screen 3 1 0, while
the other soft button 140!) is not usable and so is not visible.
on screen 310 will display screen 460 displaying commands
In other embodiments, soft buttons 140a-d provide different
for that activity. Pressing the “Disks” soft button 14011 in
visual cues to the user when they are not usable, such as those
screen 460 will display screen 470 showing the disks the user
has in a multi-disk system. In one embodiment, if the system
is not a multi-disk system, the soft button 140a will not be
discussed with reference to FIG. 5.
Referring again to 310, selecting any activity will further
usable and/or visible. Pressing the “Commands” soft button
lead to choices relating to that activity. For instance, FIG. 4A
14011 in screen 470 will take the user back to screen 460.
It will be obvious to one of skill in the art that there are
shows some screens the user can go to from the “Activities”
screen 310 in one embodiment of the present invention. If the
several possible displays and con?gurations associated with a
user selects the “Watch TV” activity, functions relating to the
remote control in accordance with embodiments of the
“Watch TV” activity are visible. In one embodiment, the user
will be taken either to commands screen 410, or favorites
screen 420, depending on the page setup by the user as the
default. In screen 410, various commands/functions can be
present invention, and that the displays described above are
merely examples of these. These are not shown here because
the speci?cs of these displays in no way limits the present
invention.
seen, which include “Display”, “Aspect”, “Stereo”, “PIP
FIG. 4C illustrates a screen 480 which is displayed when
On”, “PIP off”, and “PIP Swap”. It is to be noted that in one
the user selects an acivity “Play PS2”. Screen 480 displays the
commands associated with the “Play PS2” activity. In one
embodiment, the particular functions displayed depend on
20
the user’s con?guration of the home entertainment system
using the con?guration web-site, and can depend on various
factors, such as the particular devices added to the account. As
mentioned above, there can be more than one page displaying
such functions, and the next page can be accessed, in one
embodiment, a remote control in accordance with an embodi
ment of the present invention can function as a game control
ler when the user is using a game console such as a Playstation
from Sony, Xbox from Microsoft, Wii from Nintendo, and so
25
embodiment, by using soft button 140d.
on. It is to be noted that the remote control can take on several
other roles not mentioned here, depending on the devices it is
con?gured to control, the set-up of the user’ s home entertain
Soft button 14011 is labeled “Favorites” in screen 410, and
selecting that button will show the favorite channels selected
ment system, and so on.
by a user in accordance with an embodiment of the present
As mentioned above, in one embodiment, one of the visual
invention. This can be seen on screen 420. As mentioned 30 cues/indications available to the user is provided by back
lighting of various buttons (soft and/or hard). This can be
instead of, or in addition to, the color of the background
above, screen 420 can also be accessed directly from screen
310 in accordance with an embodiment of the present inven
tion. Screen 410 can be reached from screen 420 by clicking
on the “Commands” soft button 14011. It can be seen from
FIG. 4A that selecting the “Devices” soft button 140!) on both
35
screens 410 and 420 takes the user to the devices screen 330.
In one embodiment, screen 330 in this case has a “Watch TV”
soft button 14011, which will take the user to screen 410 or
screen 420 depending on the user’s default setup.
In one embodiment, if the user has no favorites selected,
then the soft button 140a will not be usable and/ or visible in
screen 410. In one embodiment, the soft button 140a will be
zones is context-dependent. Such context-dependent back
lighting provides the user with visual cues/ indications.
As has been seen above, in one embodiment, the remote
40
above), and (iii) an options (or settings) mode (associated
with the “Options” screen discussed above).
45
player is part of the user’s entertainment system. If the user
only has a single disc CD player, then the button 14011 is not
usable/visible. More generally, in accordance with embodi
ments of the present invention, the function and appearance
associated with a soft button depends on the context which
includes several factors such as the mode the user is in (e.g.,
Different modes are associated, in one embodiment, with
different background colors for the screen 110, and/or differ
ent backlighting for various zones. For instance, in one
embodiment the activity mode is considered the preferred
50
activities mode, device mode, options mode, etc.), the spe
ci?c screen the user is in, the way the user’s home entertain
ment system is set up and so on.
In one embodiment, there are pre-de?ned rules for the
functionality that will be associated with the soft button. For
instance, a rule could be implemented where the right soft
button 140!) is always “Devices” on any page under “Activi
ties”. The left soft button 140a could be context-dependent as
described above. Another example of a rule that could be
implemented is that for a “Device” page, the left soft button
control 100 has three modes: (i) an activity mode (associated
with the “Activities” screen discussed above), (ii) a device
mode (associated with the “Devices” screen discussed
different depending upon which activity is selected. For
instance, if the activity selected is “Play CDs”, the soft button
14011 is labeled “Disks” in one embodiment if a multi-disc
and/or symbols on the LCD 110. FIG. 5 shows some back
lighting zones in accordance with an embodiment of the
present invention. In accordance with an embodiment of the
present invention, the backlighting of one or more of these
55
mode. In accordance with one embodiment, the background
color of the LCD 110 is blue in the activities mode, and the
soft buttons 140a-d are backlit in white when appropriate in
this mode. The device mode, on the other hand, is not pre
ferred, and the user is accordingly cautioned accordingly by
making the background color of the LCD 110 amber, as well
as by backlighting the soft buttons 140a-d in amber in this
mode. Such visual cues increase user awareness by prevent
ing the user from accidentally or non-consciously entering
the device mode and making changes to speci?c devices.
One embodiment of backlighting is described in greater
60
detail with reference to FIG. 5. When the remote control 100
is turned on, the backlighting for zone 1 comes on. In one
14% displays the label that will return the user back to the
embodiment, the “Off” (or “Power”) button gets backlit ?rst,
previous screen displayed, as can be seen on 420.
and the remainder of the buttons in zone 1 get backlit after
that. When the remote control 100 is idle for a predetermined
amount of time, the backlight for zone 1 is turned off. In one
It will be obvious to one of skill in the art that various
context-speci?c buttons and/or precedence rules can be
implemented in accordance with embodiments of the present
invention.
65
embodiment, this predetermined amount of time is con?g
urable by the user. In one embodiment, the remote control 1 00
US 8,742,905 B2
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Such a con?guration in accordance with an embodiment of
the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 6. FIG. 6 includes
a remote control 100, a database 610, a network 620, and a
host 630.
In one embodiment, the host 630 is a conventional com
is connectable to a host computer, and the user can use the
host computer to con?gure the remote control 100. In one
embodiment, the user communicates with a remote server
(via the host computer) to con?gure the remote control.
In one embodiment, zones 2, 3, 4 and 5 are backlit when the
soft buttons 1400 and 140d included in these zones are usable,
as discussed above. For instance, if a menu contains only one
page, then the left and right arrows are not usable, and their
backlighting is turned off to indicate this to the user. On the
puter system, that may include a computer, a storage device,
a network services connection, and conventional input/output
devices such as, a display, a mouse, a printer, and/or a key
board, that may couple to a computer system. The computer
also includes a conventional operating system, an input/out
put device, and network services software. In addition, the
other hand, if a menu contains more than one page, the left
and/ or right arrows are backlit (depending on which page the
computer includes a network service connection which
includes those hardware and software components that allow
for connecting to a conventional network service. For
example, the network service connection may include a con
nection to a telecommunications line (e.g., a dial-up, digital
subscriber line (“DSL”), a T1, or a T3 communication line).
The host computer, the storage device, and the network ser
user is currently viewing). As mentioned above, the back
lighting color is dependent, in one embodiment, on the con
text. For instance, in one embodiment, when the remote con
trol 100 is in the activities mode or the options/ settings mode,
the backlighting for zones 2-5 is in white color. This indicates
to the user that the current mode is a preferred/ safe mode. On
the other hand, in one embodiment, when the remote control
100 is in the devices mode, the backlighting for zones 2-5 is
in amber color. This indicates to the user that the current mode
vices connection, may be available from, for example, IBM
20
to be noted that the host 630 can be any computing device
is not a preferred/ safe mode, and that the user should use some
caution when proceeding in this mode.
capable of functionalities described herein, such as, but not
limited to, gaming consoles, Personal Digital Assistants
In one embodiment, when certain soft buttons are not
usable, they are not visible at all. In another embodiment,
when certain soft buttons are not usable, they are represented
by dotted lines. It is to be noted that the particular contexts,
25
In one embodiment (shown), the user connects the remote
concept that the user can be provided with context-dependent
In one embodiment, zones 6, 7, 8 and 9 behave similarly to
zones 2-5 described above. In one embodiment, the back
lighting of speci?c soft buttons 140a and 14019 in zones 6-9 is
turned off when that button is not usable. Further, when a soft
button 140a and/or 140!) is usable and the backlighting for
that button is on, then the color of the backlighting is depen
dent on the context (e.g., whether the device is in activity
30
that in this or other embodiments, the remote control 100 does
not need to connect to a host to communicate with the remote
35
pending application Ser. No. 10/839,970, entitled “Online
Remote Control Con?guration System”, which is herein
incorporated by reference in its entirety. The information
database, but rather can use the network 620 directly. For
instance, the remote control 100 may be equipped to use an
in-home wireless network, which may in turn communicate
with an external network. An Ethernet connection, a commu
40
tems wherein the user informs the system, via a user interface
(e.g., a web page), of the devices they wish to control and the
system assembles a con?guration data set comprising the
necessary infrared control signals and associated commands
and programs which is then downloaded, through the Inter
net, into the remote control to con?gure it to operate the media
system. The on-line con?guration system is described in co
between the remote control 100 and the host 630 can occur via
a wired link (e.g., USB), wireless link (e.g., direct wireless
link, via a wireless home network, and so on). It is to be noted
mode, options/ settings mode or device mode).
The assignee of the present invention operates a system for
programming remote control devices to operate media sys
(PDAs), cell-phones, and so on.
control 100 to the host 630, and the remote control 100
communicates with the database 610 via the host through a
network 620. It is to be noted that the communication
representations, and colors used are simply examples of the
visual cues.
Corporation (Armonk, N.Y.), Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Palo
Alto, Calif.), or Hewlett-Packard, Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.). It is
nication with a cell-phone, and so on, may be used by the
remote control 100. It will be obvious to one of skill in the art
that any wired or wireless connection may be used by the
remote control to communicate with the database 630.
The network 620 can be any network, such as a Wide Area
Network (WAN) or a Local Area Network (LAN), or any
45
other network. A WAN may include the Internet, the Internet
2, and the like. A LAN may include an Intranet, which may be
a network based on, for example, TCP/IP belonging to an
organization accessible only by the organization’s members,
50
employees, or others with authorization. A LAN may also be
a network such as, for example, NetwareTM from Novell
database, which is continually updated based upon input from
Corporation (Provo, Utah) or Windows NT from Microsoft
Corporation (Redmond, Wash.). The network 620 may also
other users as well. The functioning of the database, and
include commercially available subscription-based services
downloaded into the remote control is stored in a remote
uploading and downloading of information from this data
base is described in co-pending application Ser. No. 11/199,
922, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Uploading and
Downloading Remote Control Codes” which is herein incor
such as, for example, AOL from America Online, Inc.
55
an Ethernet based network, a network based on the public
porated by reference in its entirety.
switched telephone network, a network based on the Internet,
or any other communication network. Any of the connections
in the network 620 may be wired or wireless.
It is to be noted that in accordance with an embodiment of
the present invention, the users can select different themes,
which allow for a slightly different look and feel to the but
Several aspects of the embodiments described above can
be con?gured using such an on-line con?guration system, and
signi?cant portions of relevant information can be down
loaded from the database. For instance, the mapping of spe
ci?c functions onto soft-buttons is dependent on the speci?c
con?guration of the user’s home entertainment system (the
devices included therein, their interaction, and so on). Such
mapping can be downloaded, in one embodiment, from the
remote database.
(Dulles, Va.) or MSN from Microsoft Corporation (Red
mond, Wash.). The network 120 may also be a home network,
tons, LCD, and so on.
65
While particular embodiments and applications of the
present invention have been illustrated and described, it is to
be understood that the invention is not limited to the precise
US 8,742,905 B2
11
12
construction and components disclosed herein. Various other
modi?cations, changes, and variations which will be apparent
remote control to interact with the remote control device to
control aspects of a manner in which television content is
to those skilled in the art may be made in the arrangement,
presented.
operation and details of the method and apparatus of the
10. The method of claim 6, wherein the one or more activi
present invention disclosed herein, without departing from
the spirit and scope of the invention as de?ned in the follow
ties includes a plurality of activities.
11. The method of claim 6, further comprising detecting a
ing claims.
user selected activity and modifying the interface according
What is claimed is:
1. A remote control having a housing with a bottom surface
and a top surface, the remote control comprising:
a display device including a physical screen and con?gured
to display a plurality of interface controls on the screen;
to the user selected activity to enable use of the remote control
device to control one or more external devices that participate
in the user selected activity.
12. The method of claim 6, further comprising receiving
user input to the touch-sensitive pad specifying an external
device to be controlled by the remote control device and
putting the remote control device in a mode that enables the
remote control device to control the external device.
13. The method of claim 6, wherein the plurality of user
input elements include a user input element that, when
selected by a user, causes the display to display the set of one
a transparent covering placed on top of the display device
substantially level with the top surface; and
a touch-sensitive pad placed beneath the transparent cov
ering, wherein the touch-sensitive pad is larger than the
screen so that the touch-sensitive pad is responsive to
touching directly on top of the screen as well as by
touching areas of the top surface of the remote control
beyond an outer perimeter of the screen.
or more activities.
20
2. The remote control of claim 1, further comprising:
a plurality of user input elements, wherein each of the
plurality of user input elements is coupled to the touch
sensitive pad, and wherein a ?rst part of each of the
plurality of user input elements is on the screen, and a
one or more icons, each of the one or more icons having a
corresponding activity.
15. The method of claim 6, further comprising:
25
second part of each of the plurality of input elements is
simultaneously includes at least one or more user input
elements for controlling a ?rst device and one or more
30
pate in the selected activity.
4. The remote control of claim 2, further comprising:
35
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the mode is one of a
group consisting of a plurality of modes in which the remote
6. A method for providing a user with an intuitive user
control device is capable of being and wherein, when the
interface for a remote control system, the remote control
40
does not include both the one or more user input elements for
controlling a ?rst device and one or more user input elements
plurality of user-input elements, wherein a ?rst user-input
for controlling a second device simultaneously.
45
capable of being in one of a plurality of modes, the plurality
of modes including an activity mode, the method comprising:
18. The method of claim 6, wherein the mode is in one of a
group consisting of a plurality of modes in which the remote
control device is capable of being and wherein the plurality of
user-input elements change depending on the mode in which
assessing a mode in which the remote control device is; and
when the assessment indicates that the remote control
device is in the activity mode, modifying the appearance
remote control is in at least one of the plurality of modes that
is different from the activity mode, the remote control device
that extends beyond an outer perimeter of the screen, and a
element is on a part of the touch-sensitive pad that is outside
of the outer perimeter of the screen, the remote control device
16. The method of claim 15, wherein at least one of the one
or more user input elements for controlling the ?rst device or
one or more user input elements for controlling the second
device is selectable via the display device.
tive pad uses capacitive technology.
system including a remote control device having a display
device comprising a physical screen and a touch-sensitive pad
user input elements for controlling a second device, the
?rst device and second device being devices that partici
based on a state of the remote.
a second plurality of user input elements, wherein each of
the second plurality of user input elements operates a
mechanical switch.
5. The remote control of claim 1, wherein the touch-sensi
receiving selection of an activity from the set of one or
more activities; and
modifying the interface such that the remote control device
on a part of the touch-sensitive pad that is outside of the
outer perimeter of the screen.
3. The remote control of claim 2, wherein the functionality
of at least one of the plurality of user input elements changes
14. The method of claim 6, wherein modifying the appear
ance of the interface includes causing the interface to include
50
the remote control device is assessed to be.
19. A method of controlling a set of consumer electronic
entertainment devices using a device usable as a remote con
of an interface shown on the screen to enable user selec
tion of an activity from a set of one or more activities
trol, the device having a display device con?gured to display
corresponding to the activity mode,
a user interface, the display device including a physical
wherein, modifying the appearance of the interface
screen, a touch-sensitive pad that extends beyond an outer
includes changing an indicator on the screen to re?ect a 55 perimeter of the screen, and a ?rst user-input element that is at
command change associated with the ?rst user-input
least partly on a part of the touch-sensitive pad that is outside
of the outer perimeter of the screen, the method comprising:
causing the device to modify the interface shown on the
element.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein the mode is one of a
group consisting of activity mode, device mode and options
mode.
screen to enable a user to select from a plurality of modes
60
8. The method of claim 6, further comprising:
based upon the assessment, modifying the appearance of
includes a watching television activity;
selection of the watching television activity enables use
the interface to change a command indicator associated
with the ?rst user-input element.
9. The method of claim 6, wherein the one or more activi
ties includes a watching television activity and wherein selec
tion of the watching television activity enables use of the
wherein:
the plurality of modes includes at least an activity mode;
the activity mode includes a plurality of activities that
65
of the remote control to interact with the remote con
trol device to control aspects of a manner in which
television content is presented;
US 8,742,905 B2
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13
each activity involves the participation of a correspond
ated With the ?rst user-input element and a correspond
ing display element on the screen associated With the
ing subset of the set of consumer electronic entertain
ment devices; and
?rst user-input element.
20. The method of claim 19, Wherein the set of user inter
at least one of the corresponding subsets includes a
face elements simultaneously includes at least one or more
user input elements for controlling a ?rst device and one or
plurality of the consumer electronic entertainment
devices;
more user input elements for controlling a second device, the
upon user selection of the activity mode, causing modi?
?rst device and second device being devices that participate in
the selected activity.
cation of the interface to enable user selection of an
activity from a set of one or more activities correspond
21. The remote control system of claim 19, further com
prising:
ing to the activity mode;
upon user selection of an activity, causing modi?cation of
causing the device to obtain information from a remote
server that is accessible over the lntemet; and
the display to include a set of user interface elements that
are selectable by the user for controlling the one or more
consumer electronic entertainment devices in the sub set
Wherein modi?cation of the interface depends at least in
part on the obtained information.
corresponding to the selected activity; and
upon user selection of a user interface element from the
included set of user interface elements, cause the device
to transmit a signal such that, as a result of the signal
being transmitted, at least one of the one or more con
sumer electronic entertainment devices in the subset
corresponding to the selected activity modi?es at least
one aspect of participating in the selected activity,
Wherein at least one of selection of an activity and selection
of a user interface element changes a command associ
20
22. The remote control system of claim 19, Wherein modi
fying the interface to enable a user to select from the plurality
of modes includes causing the interface to present a plurality
of icons in a sequence, each of the plurality of icons being
selectable for selection of a corresponding activity.
23. The remote control system of claim 19, Wherein the ?rst
user-interface element comprises an area that is inside the
outer perimeter of the screen and an area that is outside the
outer perimeter of the screen.
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