The vision of a personal controller, a "Universal Remote Console" (URC), that a user can employ to access and control products at home, at work, and in public places may soon be realized. Technologies for wireless connectivity and networked computing are available, providing methods for seamless discovery, controlling and event handling. However, User Interfaces of networked products still must be authored separately for each controller platform. Furthermore, many existing User Interfaces are not intuitive and easy to understand for many users.
What is needed is a standardized, versatile user interface description for products, a "User Interface Socket" to which any URC can connect to discover access and control a remote product. The User Interface Socket would provide an abstract description of the product's functions, and the URC would build custom-tailored interaction mechanisms based on the description. Thus, with only one User Interface description diverse URC technologies can be supported, such as direct manipulation techniques via desktop computers and PDAs, voice recognition and natural language technologies employed by PDAs and wearable computers. It is important that the URC provides the necessary technologies for user interaction (e.g. natural language processing), so as not to impose this burden on the product being controlled.
Figure 1: Conceptual view of a URC driven infrastructure
In the following sections the individual elements and concepts are described in more detail.