Archive for ‘Siri as the “One Ring”’

July 4, 2012

Apple’s Living Room of the Future: Remotes

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 theĀ 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 RemoteĀ 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.

May 31, 2012

The One Ring to rule them all? Just ask Siri.

My comment on the story in 9to5 Mac (from the original in BGR) of a “control out” API to allow peripherals to work with the Apple TV, to be revealed at the Apple WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in June.

As usual, we look backward to try to see where we are going and end up surprised by the new. It’s not just about a TV, it’s about everything. This is the ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL.

Apple isn’t just going for the TV, they are going for the entire house, for every consumer product. It will be more than HDMI CEC controls, though it might include those to control some legacy TVs and peripherals. HDMI also includes Ethernet on the cable, so they could do much more with peripherals that support an Ethernet-based protocol. But why limit it to the HDMI cable? If it also works through other connections like Bluetooth and powerline, it can control the lighting, the thermostat, security, the oven and other appliances. Cars and their components can support the “control out” API. Even PCs and Macs might be controllable. Even apps running on devices.

Why would third parties add “control out” to their products? Siri. If you want Siri to be able to control your product, just support “control out”. Apple is overselling what Siri can do now to build demand for Siri integration.

Maybe they should call the API “game over.” Sony and other top-line TV compoenet makers might balk at handing the keys to Apple by supporting the API. But second-tier makers in China and Korea will see it as their chance to leapfrog the big names. Sharp might support it too, because they’re so dependent on Apple for future business opportunities. They’ll have to cave, or become irrelevant. If they delay while developing their own alternative, they risk losing their hotness to Apple again.

Apps will also have to support a Siri API to be controlled by voice. The same API set willalso allow Apple to build a UI for all of the streaming apps from Comcast, HBO, etc., without having to sign content deals. It’ll be the simplest interface you can imagine, layered over the most complex jumble of apps, peripherals, etc the consumer has ever seen. But Siri will promise to make it all work together.

It’s a quick take on a topic I’ve been planning to write about for quite a while. But the news stories didn’t seem to connect the dots, so I jumped in. I apologize for the typos.