iPhone May Function as Universal Remote Control

iPhone Universal Remote

Apple recently filed for a patent that would turn a mobile phone into a “universal remote control [that] needs no special knowledge about the appliance,” according to the patent filing.

Basic concept drawings (shown right – click the image for a larger view) show a device shaped much like Apple’s iPhone.

That means you might be able to use your iPhone to control your TV and computer, to navigate through PowerPoint slide show presentations, and even to maneuver through Apple’s iTunes store.

“The mobile phone can be used to control popular programs such as iTunes,” Apple wrote in the patent filing.

The question is will this feature be available on the iPhone in June or will we have to wait for iPhone 2.0?

200 iPhone Patents: Invention vs. Innovation

The fact is, the iPhone features very little in terms of new technology. What makes Apple’s iPhone remarkable, rather, is the way in which already-existing inventions are combined to create a unique, user-friendly experience.

So why is Apple applying for 200 patents on the iPhone, a device which most would argue is an innovation, not an invention? Steven Wellman at InformationWeek points out:

Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player; they just innovated it and made it mainstream. Ditto with the Mac and graphical user interfaces. Apple is incredibly good at making technology chic, easy, and, most importantly, fun-to-use.

Wellman sums up two viewpoints on the issue: while some say that patents on innovations are unneccessary because the “rewards of the market — i.e. strong product sales” are reason enough to innovate, others argue that “both inventors and innovators need patents to give them a profit incentive to invent or innovate.” (emphasis mine)

Do you think companies have a right to patent their innovations, even if the technology isn’t technically new?

iPhone May Infringe on Quantum Research Patents

Quantum Research

Southampton-based Quantum Research is keeping an eye on iPhone because it thinks the mobile device’s touch sensors may infringe on its patents.

“The description of the iPhone suggests it uses a rear-surface touch screen and has proximity sensing which can tell if it is held to the ear. That’s a QR capability,” said Duncan Bryan, Quantum licensing director.

If Apple uses “charge transfer technology” in its iPhone, then it has infringed on Quantum’s patent, according to Bryan.

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