Can Google’s Latest Patent Stop Apple’s March into Your Living Room?

It looks like Google is gearing up to take a good idea and make it even better.

The folks at Patently Apple just dug up a patent filed by Google that highlights a new technology that may enable users to control Google TV-equipped devices just by speaking a few words.

In other words, think of it as asking Siri to stream yet another episode for that Breaking Bad marathon.

Specifically, the Palo Alto-based Internet behemoth software would allow users to, most likely via a smartphone app, direct verbal commands and questions at their TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players or any other device that’s equipped with Google TV.

Still not clear on the concept? Check out Patently Apple’s handy illustration for visual reference.

It’s about time.

After all, our TV-watching habits have changed dramatically in the last decade, particularly among the highly coveted younger demographics.

For example, a study released in December by YPulse,  a youth-focused research firm, revealed that only 46 percent of college students watch TV on an actual TV set–the rest stream shows online via a computer, smartphone or tablet. Furthermore, college kids are increasingly ditching cable TV packages and DVD subscriptions services such as Netflix.

Google’s new patent clearly looks to tap into that lucrative market. The patent, registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office just six days before Apple launched Siri and the company’s online storage service,  iCloud, outlines a new application or remote that’s clearly designed to put TV within talking distance. The remote would use voice controls linked to Google’s own cloud services and seems to allow users to utilize their Android phone as a remote.

The technology is similar to Apple’s own “remote” app which lets users to control recordings via an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The difference? Google’s remote function will also reportedly work with live TV. Point: Google.

Of course Google’s not alone in the race to dominate your TV-watching habits.

At January’s CES 2012 conference, for starters, Samsung announced its own new TV remote, a “Smart Interaction” motion control application–built directly into its TV–that lets viewers interact with their TVs by speaking, gesturing or simply looking at the device.


TV is no longer a passive activity–sure, we might be just sitting there, staring at a screen while we watch yet another episode of Top Chef or The Voice but when and how we watch those shows is still undergoing dramatic evolution.  Spoiled by the Internet’s constant on-demand flow of information, as viewers are increasingly demanding that TV fit our personal schedules, not the other way around.

It’s high time that software companies, TV manufacturers and app developers put serious investment dollars and research efforts into making television as interactive as possible.

Now if they could just invent something that would remind me, gently, to pick up a book or go outside and play already.

[via PatentlyApple]

About Rachel: Rachel is a writer living in Northern California. She spends way too much time online; follow her at @writegrrrl