The irony is hard to miss. On the very same day that Variety broke the news Samsung has killed off a secretive internal program to develop a new kind of remote meant to change the way you interact with your TV, one of the first patents from the effort moved a major step closer towards regulatory approval with its entry into the public domain.
The company no longer has much use for the rights to the invention, but the filing provides us with a rare glimpse into the original vision for the project as it existed before the scheduling setbacks and logistical mishaps that ultimately took two years of development down the drain. The remote would have been a specially-configured smartphone or tablet synchronized with the display.
That connectivity would have enabled the controller to provide features such as video streaming and the ability to display mobile notifications, along with some more unique functionality aimed at making the overall viewing experience feel as natural as possible. Standing out in particular is the automated screen switching.
Samsung planned to use your mobile camera and a separate lens installed on the TV itself to follow your gaze across displays. That would have enabled the onboard software to tell when you’re looking away from the TV to, say, check a new video on your phone and mute the show after a short while to let you concentrate the clip.
The same functionality would have also come handy the other way around in scenarios like a video chat where you’d want to see the participants on the TV without having their voices come from multiple directions. Samsung also intended to include manual controls to let you fine-tune your settings, as well as a unified viewing guide that the Variety report revealed had never materialized due to disagreements with content providers.