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Using your hands is so 2010. Voice-activated controls may be on the way for Google TV, according to a patent filed by the company last year that was recently discovered.

Patently Apple has found a filing by Google that lays out new ways for a person to control and communicate with their TV by speaking into a satellite computing device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or possibly a remote control. The document covers how Siri-like voice commands would be transmitted to a TV, describes a mobile-optimized TV interface for smartphones and tablets, and touts the advantages of teaming up multiple computing devices.

The patent describes a variety of possible communication setups. You could speak a command into your Android smartphone (“record Nightline tonight”), then the audio would bounce to the Internet, be translated to text, and the text sent to your TV. (Many TVs aren’t likely to have speech-to-text features, so translation would have to take place before the command hits the set.) There is also a description of a direct device-to-TV communication over Wi-Fi, as well as a voice command being sent to remote servers to be translated, then returning to the smartphone and transmitted to the TV directly.

The technology would allow you to switch channels or control what your TV records from anywhere using an Android handset. One use described in the patent is being able to use a smartphone to turn on your TV or start playing music when you’re up to a quarter-mile away from the television, which seems neat and a fun way to pranking your family, if not terribly useful.


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As with all patents, the actual execution could take any number of forms. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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