Did Apple patent a game controller? Actually, no it didn’t

A gaggle of sites (yep, including us) have reported that Apple has ‘patented a game controller’ – but that’s not exactly true.

Instead, a thorough read of the patent shows that Apple has been investigating the use of near-field communication chips and iOS, turning iPhones into controllers for all sorts of tech: cameras, home heating and garden sprinkler systems, Apple hardware and, yes… games devices.

That’ll explain why the patent is called ‘System and Method for Simplified Control of Electronic Devices’.

"A person may use a wide variety of electronic devices each day [but] initiating and establishing control of each device may involve a series of complicated unintuitive procedures using separate remote controls," the filing says.

Apple’s solution is to install an NFC radio-frequency ID chip into each of its future handsets which would be able to control any other RFID chip-carrying device in future.

Users could tap the devices together to quickly sync them, or discover them via wireless communication.

This would be useful for all kinds of in-home technology, plus various enterprise uses.

The widely reported games controller example is just one suggested use of the system in reverse – with a likely third-party controller having the ability to work with an iOS device, hence the illustration’s similarity to other game controllers on the market.

Apple’s other game proposals include using the iOS device as a controller for something like an app on Apple TV, with an on-screen ‘virtual’ joypad shown.

There has been much speculation about Apple adding NFC elements to its handsets, as the technology can also be used for quick payments in stores, as transport tickets or concert tickets.

Nintendo’s Wii U will include similar functionality – and in games software this is the exact technology that makes Skylanders work.

The full Apple patent filing can be found here.

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