Apple patent depicts NFC iPhone-controlled connected home

A super detailed patent application by Apple was discovered this week, depicting a connected home controllable by an assortment of Apple devices, ranging from the Apple TVs and iMacs to iPods and third-party devices like a cable box and other devices equipped with a near-field communications (NFC) chip.

An NFC enabled iPhone, Apple explains, could be used to control other devices throughout your home, including Apple’s own devices but also the stuff like PlayStation controllers, set-top boxes and even television sets…

Entitled “System and Method for Simplified Control of Electronic Devices,” the patent application illustrates a new iPhone application which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to search for and pair with nearby RFID-enabled devices.

Upon discovering the device, the RFID application would theoretically pull a specific plugin off the network, allowing you to take control of a third-party device, with your iPhone acting as a controller of sorts.

And if a third-party device doesn’t have RFID capability to advertise itself, the iPhone’s RFID app could recognize other gear by scanning a barcode or taking a photo of the object.

According to AppleInsider, which discovered Apple’s patent application:

When connected to a cable box and acting as a universal remote, the iPhone would offer typical control options like changing the channel and adjusting the volume, but it is also shown with programming information such as displaying the current channel number, what show is on the air, and a description of the program.

The 116-page document describes a number of usage scenarios:

In yet another example included in the filing, the iPhone uses an RFID chip to wirelessly control a home thermostat. The proposed system would allow users to adjust the temperature in their home based on data obtained by the iPhone.

For example, a weather-based thermostat setting could allow users to adjust the temperature based on whether it is raining or sunny outside. The system is also shown controlling the lights in a person’s home, a security system, the garage door opener, and a sprinkler system for a truly connected home.

With an NFC chip, the iPhone could even act as a remote control to a camera. A compatible digital camera could wirelessly transmit its current picture, and the iPhone could be used to zoom in, zoom out, enable or disable the flash, and take a picture. 

Remember that Apple recently won so-called iTravel patent which describes NFC capabilities of a future iPhone integrated with the Passbook application in iOS 6, which now serves as a central repository for e-tickets, discount coupons and stuff like that.

The next iPhone is said to have an NFC chip, according to “trusted sources” and some notable strings discovered in the iOS Beta code, in addition to another NFC patent which indicates Apple is interested in pursuing this technology.

The system could also lend itself to integrating seamlessly with other Apple products.

According to PatentlyApple, this is what controlling a standalone television set and the Apple TV using your NFC-enabled iPhone would be like:

The updated Apple TV could one day control cable or satellite television programming and video game play via a video game controller. This would really be a boost for Apple if users were able to play high end RPG video styled games with a standard styled controller.

Of course, if Apple brings NFC to the iPhone 5 and its other portable devices, the company likely will want to take over mobile payments but will need to compete with the likes of Google who runs the Wallet service, carriers in the United States who joined forces on mobile payments and even banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions all vying for a piece of the mobile payment cake.

Are you looking forward to NFC circuitry inside your next iPhone?