A new patent application from Lenovo reveals a new wireless convertible remote control that could work as an independent wireless device or a remote control for either an HDTV or Windows Media Center on a PC or TV. The new unit offers a slide out QWERTY keyboard, trackpad and more. While Lenovo illustrates the device in photos that have been manipulated to mask the finish of the design, the fact remains that it all but confirms that the device is in an advanced prototyping phase.
Overview of Lenovo's Wireless Convertible Remote Control
In Lenovo's patent FIG. 2(A-B) shown below we see their convertible wireless remote control 205 operating in a portrait orientation (FIG. 2A) with a QWERTY keyboard closed or hidden and in a landscape orientation (FIG. 2B) with the QWERTY opened or exposed.
In the PC control mode, corresponding to landscape orientation, a variety of options are possible for given scenarios. Essentially, the convertible wireless remote control operates a suitable PC (wireless device). It could also be connected to a regular PC and work with the Window's Media Center.
Lenovo's Sixteen Button Convertible Remote Control
Lenovo's patent FIG. 3, in one embodiment of the convertible wireless remote control 305 where there are sixteen keys on a remote control layer 319 (portrait orientation). Fourteen of these keys are command sending keys. Two keys don't send a command, one key is provided for learn activation, and one key is provided for mode switching between non-PC mode (e.g. TV mode) and PC mode.
The convertible wireless remote control also includes a touchpad 317. When QWERTY is closed (portrait orientation), the touchpad on the remote layer is deactivated (default). The touchpad could be activated/deactivated in the portrait orientation, for example by pressing the CH+ button of channel rocker 312 to activate and pressing CH- button of channel rocker to deactivate. Thus, the user could control the PC even in portrait orientation. Likewise, in landscape orientation, the user could control other devices (e.g. a TV).
As an example of non-PC mode, TV mode will be used herein as an example. In TV mode, the convertible wireless remote control operates a TV as a standard remote control through IR. In one embodiment, as an example default, the convertible wireless remote control doesn't come with any pre-programmed IR codes, which means all IR controls of the TV (model type) need to go through an IR learning process. For example, an end-user enters the TV mode (e.g. via press of the mode key 309) and then presses and holds the IR learn activation key 307. The end-user then presses a key for the target to be learned (e.g. TV).
Key functions that could be learned with IR codes include for example: Back (Back/Exit Menu), TV Menu, TV Guide, Up, Down, Left, Right, OK, Volume Up, Volume Down, Mute, Channel/Page Up, Channel/Page Down, and Power toggle.
The Touchpad with 2D Mouse Cursor Control
Lenovo's patent FIG. 4 shown below illustrates a top view of an example convertible wireless remote control in landscape orientation with a touchpad mouse control. A two dimensional mouse cursor control (corresponding to a cursor as in normal touchpad on a computer) are supported. For example, a single tap anywhere on the activated touchpad area works as single mouse left click, whereas a double tap anywhere on the activated touchpad area works as double mouse left click. A two point touch gesture sensing motion provides the corresponding response in display (zoom in or out), as per touchpad operation in a computer or mobile device (e.g. smart phone).
In one embodiment, only two point coordinates will be sent, as the host will handle the application of two point touch gestures. In one embodiment, when the QWERTY KB layer is opened or closed, the touchpad will not wake up the convertible wireless remote control from SLEEP mode.
In Lenovo's patent FIG. 6 we see some example dimensions of the convertible wireless remote control in the landscape orientation. The top remote layer 519 is illustrated slid out from the lower QWERTY KB layer, exposing a QWERTY KB. In the example embodiment shown, the QWERTY KB has a lower (length) dimension of about 104 mm and a height of about 35 mm. In the landscape position, the overall height of the convertible wireless remote control is about 91 mm.
Lenovo's patent application was originally filed in Q4 2010 and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office this month. Speculatively speaking, Lenovo's advanced prototyping phase may suggest that it's being geared for Windows 8 this fall.
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