Apple has decided to see Microsoft’s SmartGlass and raise it with their own. A patent filed by Apple back in March was published today, containing ideas for a home network controlled via smartphone. In this patent, the smartphone is the brain, able to control everything from the sprinkler system to the light switches. How? Via near field communication (NFC), which is gaining popularity fast.
The process behind this system seems fairly simple. Connect the smartphone to the other devices wirelessly by either tapping them together or taking a picture of the device’s QR code. This will allow users to “obtain control software plug-in,” which, once installed, allows the smartphone to become a remote control of sorts for said device.
However, buried in the myriad of diagrams on the various devices that your iPhone will be able to potentially control in the future, there are a couple of interesting specimens. Specifically, a dualshock-like controller, a “Video Console,” which looks rather like an Xbox, and a diagram explaining how a smartphone could be used to control a “Video Game System.”
According to the patent, “FIG. 6 illustrates a game controller 84 for use with a video gaming system, the computer 62, or the standalone media player 68.” So, the controller is specifically referred to as a “game controller,” for use with a variety of systems. The controller might be used on a smartphone or tablet even. However, that does not necessarily mean that Apple’s own gaming console is on the way. What’s also cool about the game controller is that it will double as a storage device:
“The internal components may permit the game controller 84 to store and transfer user data (e.g., game save data, digital photos, or music) using the simplified data transfer techniques discussed below.”
On to the “Video Console.” This is indeed a reference to a video game console. According to the patent:
“FIGS. 52-53 relate to controlling a video game system using another electronic device 10, such as the handheld device 40. Turning first to FIG. 52, a control initiation operation 726 may take place between the handheld device 40 and a video game system 728…”
The patent then goes on to list the PS3 and Xbox 360 as examples. So, there’s a very good reason that image looks like an Xbox. It’s probably intended to look like one as an example of a video game system. Again, this does not necessarily hint at Apple’s entrance into the video game industry.
Thus, the diagram illustrating the implementation of a smartphone in controlling a video game system merely shows the way in which a smartphone could be used to simplify the process. What I think is really neat is the ability of the smartphone to actually act as a “classic controller” with a d-pad and standard buttons. However, I’m not sure how well that would actually work, given the absence of actual, raised buttons.
All in all, the system seems pretty cool, and, like Microsoft’s SmartGlass, it would be a way to tie together all of the various electronics in the room. Does it mean that Apple is coming out with its own gaming system? No. But with all of these ideas set down on paper, there’s nothing saying Apple couldn’t decide to enter into the video game industry. Only time will tell.