AT&T Polishes U-verse Remote App

A next-generation version of an app AT&T U-verse TV subscribers can use to control set-tops with smartphones or tablets may contain features similar to the new Apple TV product unveiled this week.

Improvements to its remote control app that AT&T detailed in a patent application published on Thursday include techniques for allowing subscribers to control television volume, channel navigation and fast-forward and rewind by manipulating “slider” graphics on mobile devices.

Roberts
Roberts

Linda Roberts, former distinguished member of the technical staff at AT&T Labs, is named as lead inventor on the patent application, titled, “Method And System For Remote Control.” Roberts is now director of business development at consulting firm The Kohl Group.

Abstract: A method and system for remote control at a client of a multimedia content distribution network (MCDN) enables a user to configure a wireless user device as a remote control device (RCD). The RCD may communicate via a wireless network and an MCDN server to execute remote control commands at the MCDN client. The RCD may implement a remote control interface, including control elements configured for touch operation. The control elements may provide specific interactive functionality for channel selection, volume selection, playback of multimedia content, and other remote control features. The RCD may also receive feedback and status information associated with remote control commands.

Claims: 

1. A remote control method, comprising: displaying a remote control interface comprising selectable control elements, including a volume bar, on a display; responsive to receiving, via the remote control interface, first user input indicative of a volume change direction and a volume change magnitude relative to a zero position of the volume bar, performing operations comprising: sending, to a multimedia handling device, a remote control command for changing a volume; and displaying, on the display, volume data that changes in accordance with the volume change magnitude; and responsive to receiving a second user input selecting currently displayed volume data corresponding to a desired volume, sending a command to change the volume to the desired volume.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first user input is indicative of a dragging motion.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising: responsive to detecting, at the remote control interface, an absence of touch input for an interval exceeding a particular duration, resetting the volume bar to the zero position.

4. A wireless device, comprising: a processor coupled to a computer readable storage medium; a touch interface coupled to the processor; a wireless interface coupled to the processor; and a display coupled to the processor; wherein the computer readable storage medium includes processor executable instructions that, when executed by the processor, cause the processor to perform operations comprising: displaying a remote control interface comprising selectable control elements, including a volume bar, on the display; responsive to receiving, via the touch interface, first user input indicating a volume change direction and a volume change magnitude relative to a zero position of the volume bar, displaying, on the display, volume data that changes at a rate according to the volume change magnitude; and responsive to receiving a second user input selecting currently displayed volume data corresponding to a desired volume, sending a command to change the volume to the desired volume.

5. The wireless device of claim 4, wherein the selectable control elements include a channel control element, and wherein the operations include: displaying, on the display, a channel bar; receiving a third user input at the channel bar, including receiving an indication of a channel magnitude; and responsive to receiving the third user input, including, with the remote control command sent to the multimedia handling device, a channel command to select a channel according to the channel magnitude.

6. The wireless device of claim 4, wherein the operations include: responsive to receiving a fourth user input indicative of a double-tap at the volume bar, setting the volume magnitude to either: a muted audio volume or a zero audio volume.

7. The wireless device of claim 4, wherein the operations include: responsive to detecting an absence of touch input at the touch interface for an interval exceeding a predetermined duration, resetting the volume bar to the zero position.

8. The wireless device of claim 4, wherein the selectable control elements include an electronic program guide element, and wherein the operations include: receiving, via the touch interface, program guide user input indicative of a motion of the electronic program guide element, wherein the motion is indicative of a speed of scrolling and a direction of scrolling through selectable elements in the electronic program guide; and including, based on the motion of the electronic program guide element, a corresponding electronic program guide navigation command with the remote control command sent to the multimedia handling device.

9. The wireless device of claim 4, wherein the operations include: responsive to receiving third user input for controlling playback of a recorded multimedia program at the multimedia handling device, displaying a playback bar configured for bidirectional incremental input from a zero position; receiving, via the touch interface, playback bar user input indicative of a playback increment magnitude; and responsive to receiving the playback bar user input, including, with the remote control command sent to the multimedia handling device, a command to play back the recorded multimedia program according to the playback increment magnitude.

10. A non-transitory computer readable storage medium, including processor executable instructions that, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform operations comprising: establishing a wireless connection to a multimedia handling device; generating a remote control interface, including a volume bar, to indicate bidirectional incremental input from a zero position; receiving first user input corresponding to a dragging motion detected by a touch interface at the volume bar, wherein a magnitude of the dragging motion indicates a volume increment magnitude; generating a volume indicator display changing at a rate according to the volume increment magnitude; and responsive to receiving a second user input, selecting a desired volume indicated by a currently displayed value of the volume indicator, sending a volume change command to change the volume to the desired volume.

11. The computer readable storage medium of claim 10, wherein the operations include: resetting the volume bar to the zero position when an absence of touch input associated with the touch interface is detected for an interval exceeding a particular duration.

12. The computer readable storage medium of claim 10, wherein the operations include: sending the remote control interface to a display of a remote control device.

13. The computer readable storage medium of claim 10, wherein the operations include: receiving, via the touch interface, a program guide user input selecting a remote control element for navigating an electronic program guide; and sending an electronic program guide navigation command to a remotely located multimedia handling device.

14. The computer readable storage medium of claim 13, wherein the program guide user input is indicative of a scrolling speed associated with elements in the electronic program guide.

15. The computer readable storage medium of claim 10, wherein the dragging motion includes a circular motion.

16. The computer readable storage medium of claim 10, wherein the operations include: receiving, via the touch interface, a playback input selecting a remote control element for controlling playback of a recorded multimedia program stored on the multimedia handling device; displaying a playback bar for bidirectional incremental input from a zero position; receiving touch input at the playback bar indicating a playback increment magnitude; and sending a playback remote control command to the multimedia handling device, to play back the recorded multimedia program according to the playback increment magnitude.

17. The computer readable storage medium of claim 16, wherein the operations include: responsive to detecting a tap of the playback bar, determining a tapped position of the playback bar and increasing the playback increment magnitude in accordance with a playback factor determined based on the tapped position.

18. The computer readable storage medium of claim 17, wherein the operations include: responsive to determining the tapped position is a positive portion, assigning a positive direction to the playback increment magnitude; and responsive to determining the tapped position is a negative portion, assigning a negative direction to the playback increment magnitude.