An Apple patent points to the possible design of Apple’s living room of tomorrow. As more and more peripherals go wireless, and more members of the household get their own potential controllers (like iDevices), the number of pairings that need to be made will explode. Apple has something in mind that will help.
First, the problem: Multiplying Integration Complexity
For example, if you have two Bluetooth DVRs that you’d like to control with either of two iDevices then you need to pair each controller with each device, 2 x 2 = 4 pairings. Add a couple more peripherals over time and occasionally replace the iDevices and you get not only dozens of pairings, you get a headache.
Now the solution: AirPort Remote*
An intermediary device that is paired with the peripherals that are in range, that any iDevice can use to control any of the peripherals. You only need as many intermediaries as physical limits of the protocols require. If any devices require infrared commands, you’ll need an intermediary in the room. In my house, I have four DVRs that could be Bluetooth-controlled, one AirPort Remote could be in range of all four. We have four iDevices as well, so the potential 16 pairings would be reduced to just 4. If the AirPort Remote is networkable then I can manage all of the DVRs from anywhere.
* Made up name
But Trill, you may say, couldn’t you get an app to control them? Yes, I can have apps to control DVRs, and apps to control IR peripherals, and apps to control lights, zillions of apps. But that’s just another kind of ever-multiplying set of things to set up. More headaches!
With AirPort Remote(s), I set up peripheral control once, and every iDevice linked to my iCloud account is able to issue commands. Any app, and Siri too, has a standard way to send commands to any room.
Will Apple produce a separate Apple Remote? This feature may not require a standalone product, so it is more likely to be built into the Apple TV and various AirPort models.