Microsoft acquisition holds unique universal remote patent


A patent owned by R2 Studios could have big implications for the future of Xbox.

When it was first reported Microsoft was buying Sling Media founder Blake Krikorian's new company, R2 Studios, it was quickly revealed the acquisition would be part of Microsoft's efforts to beef up its Xbox devices. According to patents discovered by GeekWire, a new form of universal remote could be one of the beneficial aspects of the deal.

Patent filings in the U.S. reveal R2 Studios has a patent for a unique form of universal remote that would allow users to control a wide variety of devices from a single controller. Some of the devices included in the patent include computers, televisions, video cameras, lights and more generic household appliances.

Microsoft's made no secret of its desire to expand the Xbox platform into entertainment sectors beyond gaming. The company recently rebranded its Zune music and video service to use the Xbox name because of its strong brand recognition.

Larry Hryb, Xbox Live's director of programming, recently launched a countdown to this year's E3 gaming conference, hinting at a possible announcement for new Xbox hardware. Microsoft is believed to be working on two separate Xbox devices – one of which is believed to be a set-top box device that will be more entertainment-based and only offer basic games. A full successor to the Xbox 360 is also expected to be announced.

Given Microsoft's desire to expand the Xbox brand to its other products – including computers and smartphones – and more entertainment services, consumers may see the fruits of the company's R2 Studios acquisition sooner rather than later after the deal is finalized.

Source: GeekWire | Image via GeekWire

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20 Comments

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Yeah Universal would sure be nice. Harmony remotes are total crap.
Media Center remotes are nice other than the fact they are IR instead of RF, but personally I think that they should be Bluetooth. Everything should switch over to Bluetooth.

I think they could be onto something because Microsoft have been stressing unity across services for a while now and so I do hope that their "ecosystem" as its now called can operate under one roof with an experience that can be universal and not disjointed like the shift between linux OS distributions is.

Big companies these days are getting lazy. They just buy out existing technology just to slap their name on it and use the patents against others in court (cough cough Apple & Google) instead of making something themselves from the ground up, like the companies they buy out did.

One good thing about MS buying Krikorian's new company is now the hardware might actually start to be decent and last unlike Krikorian's Sling venture. Anyone here still replacing capacitors and power supplies on Sling boxes, like me? Sling's workmanship and customer support was poor, MS might even keep this new firm on track!

Tidosho said,
Big companies these days are getting lazy. They just buy out existing technology just to slap their name on it and use the patents against others in court (cough cough Apple & Google) instead of making something themselves from the ground up, like the companies they buy out did.

Have you any idea how much the big three spend on R&D a year? It's an awful lot. I know what you're saying but if the technology already exists then there's no point in re-inventing it, especially as it'll most likely already be covered by patents. Best thing to do is buy up the company or technology you need to further your own offering.

Mikeffer said,

Have you any idea how much the big three spend on R&D a year? It's an awful lot. I know what you're saying but if the technology already exists then there's no point in re-inventing it, especially as it'll most likely already be covered by patents. Best thing to do is buy up the company or technology you need to further your own offering.

Agreed. And further development and enhancement of whatever products / services the company bought. There's nothing wrong with the way Microsoft buys companies because that's what they do. They don't leave it alone and just rebrand like some other companies do...

Microsoft seems to have ensured Xbox SmartGlass patent concerns are covered, along with remote control functionality from Windows 8 devices.

It is also a possible indication of an expansion of more device and quasi-SmartGlass like functionality coming from Microsoft.

MrAnalysis said,
lol, but we already have universal remotes..

But... do they work with servers?! Because if that's isn't CLEARLY game-changing I don't know what is...

MrAnalysis said,
lol, but we already have universal remotes..

Yup, and Microsoft now already own the patents to that technology.

francescob said,

But... do they work with servers?! Because if that's isn't CLEARLY game-changing I don't know what is...

Logitech Harmony can work with anything supporting IR. I can control my PC and my xbox 360 with my Harmony 880 as long as the IR signal can reach them. I could control my iHome ID85 if i wanted to as well. Anything that can be controlled using IR signals can be controlled by the Harmony remote. Some high end Harmony models support RF signal as well.

Edited by LaP, Jan 4 2013, 2:56pm :

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Once you get the Harmony to work with a server let me know then I'll switch my current one to it aswell.

Hum you can actually control any computer with the Harmony as long as this computer has a IR signals receiver and the proper drivers and software for this receiver.

I don't see what is the big fuss about controlling a computer with a remote.

LaP said,

Hum you can actually control any computer with the Harmony as long as this computer has a IR signals receiver and the proper drivers and software for this receiver.

I don't see what is the big fuss about controlling a computer with a remote.

The problem with IR is it needs to be in direct sight of the receiver. Having a media server in the closet or other home hub locations makes remotes like the harmony pretty useless, even if you did buy a IR kid for your server and configure the software.

There are some wireless home media centers that already have a remote and they'll control everything from lights and sound, to popup TVs and the curtains closing. However there isn't a universal protocol for these or any of the other remote control devices that popup, and that's one of the reasons why its so expensive.

I'm sure we've all heard of bill gates technology house, where everything is remote controlled... maybe this is a driving factor as he gets older

sagum said,

Yup, and Microsoft now already own the patents to that technology.


No they don't, they have patents for a specific universal controller.

yeah. but it is limited to IR, maybe if it was uhf pro, it might actually be a game changer.


LaP said,

Logitech Harmony can work with anything supporting IR. I can control my PC and my xbox 360 with my Harmony 880 as long as the IR signal can reach them. I could control my iHome ID85 if i wanted to as well. Anything that can be controlled using IR signals can be controlled by the Harmony remote. Some high end Harmony models support RF signal as well.