Apple is known as one of the most innovative companies in history, and they’re also very careful about protecting all of their bright ideas. This results in them constantly applying for patents for these inventions. More often than not, these patents never result in an actual product, but it’s fun to see the kinds of things that are brewing behind the scenes at the famously guarded Cupertino company.

One of those interesting ideas surfaced this week, when Apple was granted a patent covering iOS devices interacting with other machines via NFC, or Near Field Communication. NFC is basically a chip installed on a device that can wirelessly connect to a similarly equipped NFC device simply by putting the two devices close together. Sort of like Bluetooth, but simpler.

It’s been long rumored that NFC would make its way into the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and this latest patent covers some of the things Apple might expect to do with such technology. While this includes more mundane things like controlling your thermostat or turning on the sprinklers in the yard from your smartphone, they also have a couple of gaming-related applications in mind.

One shows an iOS device pairing with a game console controller itself, thus giving the ability to control the game from the controller to the Apple device. Several options for virtual onscreen controls are given for doing so. The second application shows an iOS device connecting directly to the game console itself, allowing you to control the system using iOS after pairing with the console via WiFi, infrared, or NFC.

Some pretty neat stuff, but like I said it may never come to fruition. However, with Apple’s subtle entry into the living room with Apple TV and game console makers taking more of an interest in involving smartphones into their overall game plan, it’s smart of Apple to cover their bases and it’ll be interesting to see if anything ever comes from this.

[Via Joystiq]

  • CaponeTalks

    Well, wouldn't it be nice if Apple would release something like the OUYA console?!

  • Faeryan

    An iPhone vonnecting to Xbox, Wii or PS3, don't think so, as we've all heard the rumors about Apple going into console market woth their own device.
    If that's about to happen I think Apple rather connects iDevice to iConsole rather than any other console.

    • Jan Becker

      I don't think so. Apple already has 3 consoles. The iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and I'm pretty sure they won't release a dedicated gaming console. They'll probably give the Apple TV the ability to run iOS Games but nothing more than that.
      They could use a NFC-enabled Dualshock-Controller to control the "serious" games that will come to the iDevices with better graphic chips or they could offer a number of cool features to make iDevices more attractive to people who own a console.

  • subshell001

    If anyone has interest in losing at least 30 IQ points, read Kotaku's version of this story and its comments.

  • REkzkaRZ

    I like the concept of using iPad/iPhone to 'enhance' those controllers; add macros, pre-recorded moves, find friends easier (PS3 could use that!), etc.  I don't like the idea of using the iOS device as the controller.
    I'd rather see that the other way around -- use my PS3 controller on the iOS device..?

    • raaaaaaaandy

      ios needs help with pairing ps3 controller for ios