US20110077751A1 - Systems and methods for controlling appliances via a network - Google Patents

Systems and methods for controlling appliances via a network Download PDF

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US20110077751A1
US20110077751A1 US12/963,757 US96375710A US2011077751A1 US 20110077751 A1 US20110077751 A1 US 20110077751A1 US 96375710 A US96375710 A US 96375710A US 2011077751 A1 US2011077751 A1 US 2011077751A1
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control device
command
network
control
appliance
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Abandoned
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US12/963,757
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Jason Keith Redi
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Verizon Corporate Services Group Inc
Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp
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Verizon Corporate Services Group Inc
Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp
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Priority to US09/572,682 priority Critical patent/US7865568B1/en
Application filed by Verizon Corporate Services Group Inc, Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp filed Critical Verizon Corporate Services Group Inc
Priority to US12/963,757 priority patent/US20110077751A1/en
Publication of US20110077751A1 publication Critical patent/US20110077751A1/en
Assigned to BBNT SOLUTIONS LLC reassignment BBNT SOLUTIONS LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: REDI, JASON KEITH
Assigned to VERIZON CORPORATE SERVICES GROUP INC., BBNT SOLUTIONS LLC reassignment VERIZON CORPORATE SERVICES GROUP INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BBNT SOLUTIONS LLC
Assigned to BBN TECHNOLOGIES OPERATING CORP. reassignment BBN TECHNOLOGIES OPERATING CORP. MERGER (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BBNT SOLUTIONS LLC
Assigned to BBN TECHNOLOGIES CORP. reassignment BBN TECHNOLOGIES CORP. CHANGE OF NAME (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BBN TECHNOLOGIES OPERATING CORP.
Assigned to RAYTHEON BBN TECHNOLOGIES CORP. reassignment RAYTHEON BBN TECHNOLOGIES CORP. CHANGE OF NAME (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BBN TECHNOLOGIES CORP.
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08CTRANSMISSION SYSTEMS FOR MEASURED VALUES, CONTROL OR SIMILAR SIGNALS
    • G08C17/00Arrangements for transmitting signals characterised by the use of a wireless electrical link
    • G08C17/02Arrangements for transmitting signals characterised by the use of a wireless electrical link using a radio link
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08CTRANSMISSION SYSTEMS FOR MEASURED VALUES, CONTROL OR SIMILAR SIGNALS
    • G08C19/00Electric signal transmission systems
    • G08C19/16Electric signal transmission systems in which transmission is by pulses
    • G08C19/28Electric signal transmission systems in which transmission is by pulses using pulse code
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08CTRANSMISSION SYSTEMS FOR MEASURED VALUES, CONTROL OR SIMILAR SIGNALS
    • G08C23/00Non-electrical signal transmission systems, e.g. optical systems
    • G08C23/04Non-electrical signal transmission systems, e.g. optical systems using light waves, e.g. infra-red
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L12/2816Controlling appliance services of a home automation network by calling their functionalities
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08CTRANSMISSION SYSTEMS FOR MEASURED VALUES, CONTROL OR SIMILAR SIGNALS
    • G08C2201/00Transmission systems of control signals via wireless link
    • G08C2201/20Binding and programming of remote control devices
    • G08C2201/21Programming remote control devices via third means
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08CTRANSMISSION SYSTEMS FOR MEASURED VALUES, CONTROL OR SIMILAR SIGNALS
    • G08C2201/00Transmission systems of control signals via wireless link
    • G08C2201/40Remote control systems using repeaters, converters, gateways
    • G08C2201/42Transmitting or receiving remote control signals via a network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L2012/284Home automation networks characterised by the type of medium used
    • H04L2012/2841Wireless

Abstract

A remote control device (140, 600) controls the operation of an appliance. The remote control device (140, 600) includes a receiver (320) or transceiver (620), a controller (330, 630), and a transmitter (350, 650). The receiver (320) or transceiver (620) receives a network packet that includes at least one command. The controller (330, 630) analyzes the network packet to determine whether the packet is intended for the remote control device (140, 600). The transmitter (350, 650) outputs a signal to control operation of the appliance based on the command when the controller (330, 630) determines that the packet is intended for the remote control device (140, 600).

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • A. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates generally to remote control systems and, more particularly, to systems and methods for remotely controlling appliances via a network.
  • B. Description of Related Art
  • In the last several years, home networks have become increasingly common throughout the world. Home networks are often radio frequency-based so that computers and printers in different places in the home can easily communicate with one another regardless of their location and without installing wires.
  • The vision of the future home often includes home appliances, such as telephones and heating and cooling equipment, integrated into the home network. Such an integration would permit the addition of new appliances and allow these devices to easily communicate with each other. One day, all household appliances from refrigerators to televisions may be integrated into this home network.
  • The problem with such an integration is that it requires the appliance to be manufactured with the networking capability built into it. Because individuals typically keep the same appliances for decades or more, it may be a very long time before all of the appliances in a typical household include the networking capability.
  • Some conventional appliances, such as stereos and televisions, include a wireless control device in the form of a remote control. To control the operation of one of these devices, a user must physically push a button on a uniquely associated or universal remote control. The user normally gets audio or visual queues that the requested operation was received and performed by the appliance (e.g., the television changes the channel after the user presses a button on the remote control device). These appliances are not, however, easily integrated in a home network.
  • As a result, a need exists for a mechanism that facilitates the integration of conventional appliances in a home network.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Systems and methods consistent with the present invention address this need by providing a mechanism that permits conventional appliances to be integrated in a home network, thereby permitting the appliances to be controlled via a device directly or indirectly connected to the home network.
  • In accordance with the purpose of the invention as embodied and broadly described herein, a remote control device controls the operation of an appliance. The remote control device includes a receiver or transceiver, a controller, and a transmitter. The receiver/transceiver receives a network packet that includes at least one command. The controller analyzes the network packet to determine whether the packet is intended for the remote control device. The transmitter outputs a signal to control operation of the appliance based on the command when the controller determines that the packet is intended for the remote control device.
  • In another implementation consistent with the present invention, a network with multiple appliances includes a device and a remote control. The device generates a command for controlling one of the appliances. The remote control receives the command from the device, generates a control signal based on the command, and transmits the control signal to the appliance to control operation of the appliance.
  • In yet another implementation consistent with the present invention, a device in a network, including at least one device connected to multiple appliances via at least one remote control, includes a graphical user interface and a processor. The graphical user interface presents to a user a list of appliances and control options. The processor broadcasts a request to identify remote controls connected to the network and capabilities of the remote controls, receives responses from the remote controls, and generates the list of the appliances and control options from the received responses.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate the invention and, together with the description, explain the invention. In the drawings,
  • FIG. 1 is a diagram of an exemplary network consistent with the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is an exemplary diagram of a user device consistent with the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is an exemplary diagram of a remote control in an implementation consistent with the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a flowchart of processing for controlling an appliance in an implementation consistent with the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram of an exemplary graphical user interface that may be provided by the network device and/or the user device of FIG. 1 in an implementation consistent with the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 is an exemplary diagram of a remote control in another implementation consistent with the present invention; and
  • FIG. 7 is a flowchart of processing for controlling an appliance in another implementation consistent with the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The following detailed description of the invention refers to the accompanying drawings. The same reference numbers in different drawings identify the same or similar elements. Also, the following detailed description does not limit the invention. Instead, the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims and equivalents.
  • Systems and methods consistent with the present invention facilitate the connection of conventional appliances to a home network. As such, the appliances may be controlled by a device either directly or indirectly connected to the network.
  • Exemplary Network
  • FIG. 1 is a diagram of an exemplary network 100 consistent with the present invention. The network 100 may include a user device 110 connected to one or more appliances 120 via a network 130 and a remote control 140. The user device 110 may also connect to a network device 150 via a network 160. The user device 110 may include a personal computer, a laptop, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a cellular telephone, or a similar device.
  • FIG. 2 is an exemplary diagram of the user device 110 consistent with the present invention. The user device 110 may include a processor 210, main memory 220. a read only memory (ROM) 230, a bus 240, an input device 250, an output device 260, and a communication interface 270.
  • The processor 210 may include any type of conventional processing device that interprets and executes instructions. Main memory 220 may include a random access memory (RAM), a large capacity storage device, such as a magnetic or optical recording medium and its corresponding drive, or another type of dynamic storage device. Main memory 220 may store information, instructions, and temporary variables for use by processor 210. ROM 230 may include a conventional ROM device or another type of static storage device that stores static information and instructions for the processor 210. The bus 240 may include a set of hardware lines (i.e., conductors) that permits data transfer among the components of the user device 110.
  • The input device 250 may include conventional input mechanisms, such as a keyboard, a mouse, a microphone, biometric mechanisms, or the like. The output device 260 may include conventional output mechanisms, such as a display, a pair of speakers, or the like. The communication interface 270 enables the user device 110 to communicate with other devices/systems via any communications medium. For example, the communication interface 270 may include a wireless transmitter for communicating with a remote control 140 (FIG. 1) via the network 130 or a modem for communicating with the network device 150 via the network 160. Alternatively, the communication interface may include any other type of interface that enables communication between the user device 110 and other devices or systems.
  • Returning to FIG. 1, the appliances 120 may include conventional devices, such as televisions, video cassette recorders (VCRs), digital versatile disk (DVD) players, stereos, camcorders, etc., that include infrared receiving ports. These conventional appliances 120 are designed to perform specific functions in response to commands received via their infrared (IR) receiving ports.
  • The network 130 may include a wireless network that permits the user device 110 to communicate with the remote control 140 using, for example, radio frequency (RF) technologies. The network 160 may include the Internet, an intranet, a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), the public switched telephone network (PSTN), or another type of network. The network 160 permits the network device 150 to communicate with the user device 110. The network device 150 may include a personal computer, a laptop, a PDA, a cellular or digital telephone, or the like, and may be configured similarly to the user device 110 described with respect to FIG. 2. The network device 150 may communicate with the user device 110 to control an appliance 120 via a remote control 140.
  • The remote control 140 sends command signals to the appliances 120 to instruct the appliances 120 to perform certain operations, such as changing channels or volume, playing or recording a movie or a song, etc. FIG. 3 is an exemplary diagram of the remote control 140 in an implementation consistent with the present invention. The remote control 140 may include an antenna 310, a receiver 320, a microcontroller 330, a transmitter controller 340, a transmitter 350, input keys 360, and an input controller 370.
  • The antenna 310 may include a conventional antenna for receiving RF signals. The receiver 320 may include an RF receiver that interprets the RF signals received by the antenna 310 and an analog-to-digital converter that converts the RF signals to digital signals for use by the microcontroller 330. The microcontroller 330 may include any processing device with simple networking capabilities. The microcontroller 330 analyzes the digital signals from the receiver 320 to determine whether the digital signals are addressed to the remote control 140 and whether the remote control 140 is capable of performing any command included in the digital signals.
  • The transmitter controller 340 may include a conventional control device that controls the transmission of IR signals via the transmitter 350. The transmitter controller 340 receives inputs from the microcontroller 330 and the input keys 360 via the input controller 370. The input keys 360 may include conventional input controls, such as buttons, that permit a user to input particular commands into the remote control 140. The input controller 370 includes a conventional control device that interprets the operation of the input keys 360 and generates a command signal for transmission by the transmitter 350. The transmitter 350 may include an IR transmitter that transmits an IR signal as instructed by the transmitter controller 340.
  • Exemplary Processing
  • FIG. 4 is a flowchart of processing for controlling an appliance in an implementation consistent with the present invention. Processing might begin with a user entering an instruction into the network device 150 or the user device 110 [step 410]. The network device 150 and user device 110 may be preprogrammed with a list of appliances 120 and their capabilities. In this case, the devices 150 and 110 may present the user with a list of appliances 120 and corresponding options from which the user may select. The devices 150 and 110 may provide graphical user interfaces to the user to facilitate the user's selection.
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram of an exemplary graphical user interface 500 for controlling a television that may be provided by the network device 150 and/or the user device 110 in an implementation consistent with the present invention. The graphical user interface 500 may include an appliance identifier 510, such as “Sony 53 Inch Television,” to uniquely identify the appliance 120 being controlled, and one or more command components 520, such as channel and volume command components, to control the operation of the appliance 120.
  • Once the user enters the instruction, the network device 150 or user device 110 analyzes the instruction and generates a command signal therefrom [step 420]. If the user enters the instruction via the network device 150, the network device 150 transmits the command signal to the user device 110 via the network 160. For example, the network device 150 might use a modem to transmit the command signal to the user device 110.
  • The user device 110 generates a network packet from the command signal and transmits the network packet to the remote control 140 using conventional RF transmission techniques [step 430]. The receiver 320 (FIG. 3) of the remote control 140 receives the network packet and may convert it from analog to digital form [step 440]. The microcontroller 330 analyzes the packet to determine whether it is addressed to the remote control 140. To make this determination, the microcontroller 330 might compare a destination address in the packet to the network address of the remote control 140.
  • If the packet is not addressed to the remote control 140, the microcontroller 330 may simply discard it. If it is addressed to the remote control 140, the microcontroller 330 reads the packet to identify the command contained therein. The microcontroller 330 may then determine whether the remote control 140 can perform this command [step 450]. To make this determination, the microcontroller 330 may compare the command to a table of known commands. For example, if the command includes an instruction to increase the volume on a stereo, the microcontroller 330 determines whether it has the capability to increase the volume on the stereo.
  • If the command is not one that the remote control 140 can perform, the microcontroller 330 may discard it. If it is one that the remote control 140 can perform, the microcontroller 330 sends appropriate signals to the transmitter controller 340 to instruct it to generate an IR signal corresponding to the command. The signals sent by the microcontroller 330 may emulate signals generated by the input controller 370 in response to the same command being input via the input keys 360.
  • The transmitter controller 340 generates the IR signal [step 460] and transmits it to the IR receiving port of the intended appliance 120 [step 470]. To facilitate the transmission of the IR signal, it may be necessary that the transmitter 350 of the remote control 140 be pointed in the direction of the appliance 120.
  • Network Remote Control
  • FIG. 6 is an exemplary diagram of a remote control 600 in another implementation consistent with the present invention. The remote control 600 has similar components to the remote control 140 of FIG. 3, but differs from the remote control 140 in that the remote control 600 has more networking capabilities and acts as a node in the network 100. The remote control 600 may include an antenna 610, a transceiver 620, a microcontroller 630, a transmitter controller 640, a transmitter 650, input keys 660, and an input controller 670.
  • The antenna 610 may include a conventional antenna for transmitting and receiving RF signals. The transceiver 620 may include an RF transceiver that interprets the RF signals received by the antenna 610, an analog-to-digital converter that converts the RF signals to digital signals for use by the microcontroller 630, and a digital-to-analog converter that converts digital signals from the microcontroller 630 to analog RF signals for transmission via the network 130.
  • The microcontroller 630 may include any processing device with networking capabilities that permit the remote control 600 to participate in the network 130 as a normal peripheral node. The microcontroller 630 may maintain information on the capabilities of the remote control 600 and respond to queries by providing this capability information to another device connected to the network 130. The microcontroller 630 may acknowledge and analyze commands received from the network.
  • The transmitter controller 640 may include a conventional control device that controls the transmission of IR signals via the transmitter 650. The transmitter controller 640 receives inputs from the microcontroller 630 and the input keys 660 via the input controller 670. The input keys 660 may include conventional input controls, such as buttons, that permit a user to input particular commands. The input controller 670 includes a conventional control device that interprets the operation of the input keys 660 and generates a command signal for transmission by the transmitter 650. The transmitter 650 may include an IR transmitter that transmits an IR signal as instructed by the transmitter controller 640.
  • Exemplary Processing with Network Remote Control
  • FIG. 7 is a flowchart of processing for controlling an appliance in another implementation consistent with the present invention. Processing might begin with the user device 110 (FIG. 1) determining what remote controls 600 are available on the network. For example, the user device 110 may transmit a query, such as a standard “service discovery protocol,” on the network 130 to determine what remote controls 600 are connected to the network 130 and their respective capabilities [step 710]. Each of the remote controls 600 may respond to the user device 110 with its network address and capabilities [step 720].
  • The user device 110 may provide the information received from the remote controls 600 to a user via a graphical user interface. For example, the user device 110 may present the user with a list of appliances 120 and corresponding options from which the user may select. If the user accesses the network 130 via a network device 150, instead of the user device 110, the network device 150 may obtain the information regarding the capabilities of the remote controls 600 from the user device 110 via the network 160.
  • In either case, the user device 110 or network device 150 receives an instruction from the user [step 730]. The user device 110 or network device 150 analyzes the instruction and generates a command signal therefrom [step 740]. If the user enters the instruction via the network device 150, the network device 150 transmits the command signal to the user device 110 via the network 160. For example, the network device 150 might use a modem to transmit the command signal to the user device 110.
  • The user device 110 may then generate a network packet from the command signal and transmit the network packet to a remote control 600 having the required capabilities [step 750]. The user device 110 may use conventional RF transmission techniques to transmit the packet.
  • The transceiver 620 (FIG. 6) of the remote control 600 receives the network packet and may acknowledge its receipt [step 760]. The microcontroller 630 may then analyze the packet to determine whether it is addressed to the remote control 600. To make this determination, the microcontroller 630 might compare a destination address in the packet to the network address of the remote control 600. If the packet is not addressed to the remote control 600, the microcontroller 630 may discard it.
  • If the packet is addressed to the remote control 600, the microcontroller 630 reads the packet to identify the command contained therein. The microcontroller 630 may then send the appropriate signals to the transmitter controller 640 to instruct it to generate an IR signal corresponding to the command. The signals sent by the microcontroller 630 may emulate signals generated by the input controller 670 in response to the same command being input via the input keys 660.
  • The transmitter controller 640 generates the IR signal [step 770] and transmits it to the IR receiving port of the intended appliance 120 [step 780]. To facilitate the transmission of the IR signal, it may be necessary that the transmitter 650 of the remote control 600 be pointed in the direction of the appliance 120.
  • CONCLUSION
  • Systems and methods consistent with the present invention permit conventional appliances to be controlled over a network. A user within a household may control the operation of one or more appliances using, for example, a personal computer. In addition, a user outside of the household may control these appliances using a device connected to a network, such as the Internet.
  • The foregoing description of preferred embodiments of the present invention provides illustration and description, but is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teachings or may be acquired from practice of the invention. For example, while series of steps have been described with regard to FIGS. 4 and 7, the order of the steps does not matter.
  • In addition, the preceding description described the remote control as controlling the operation of an appliance based on an instruction from a user. In another implementation consistent with the present invention, the user device 110 may be preprogrammed to automatically issue a command signal to the remote control for controlling the appliance based on what the user is doing on the user device.
  • The scope of the invention is defined by the claims and their equivalents.

Claims (22)

1-33. (canceled)
34. A control device comprising:
a receiver coupled to a network and configured to receive from an originating device over the network a network packet having a destination address and including at least one command, the at least one command for controlling operation of an appliance;
a storage device configured to store information corresponding to a capability of the control device, the capability of the control device including a set of predetermined commands; and
a controller configured to analyze the destination address of the network packet to determine whether the network packet is intended for the control device, wherein the controller identifies the at least one command from the network packet and compares the at least one command with the set of predetermined commands to determine whether the at least one command can be performed by the control device; and
a transmitter which transmits a signal to the appliance to control operation of the appliance based on the at least one command when the network packet is determined to be intended for the control device.
35. The control device of claim 34, wherein the controller is configured to compare the destination address included in the network packet with a network address corresponding to the control device to determine whether the network packet is intended for the control device.
36. The control device of claim 34, further comprising:
a transceiver configured to receive the network packet and acknowledge receipt of the network packet.
37. The control device of claim 34, wherein the controller is configured to receive a request for information regarding the capability of the control device, and to transmit a reply containing the set of predetermined commands.
38. The control device of claim 34, wherein the receiver includes a radio frequency interface configured to receive the network packet sent via radio frequency technology over the network.
39. The control device of claim 34, wherein the storage device is included in at least one of the receiver, controller, and transmitter.
40. The control device of claim 34, wherein the transmitter includes a wireless interface, and wherein the signal transmitted by the transmitter is a wireless signal that is transmitted via the wireless interface directly to the appliance.
41. The control device of claim 40, wherein the wireless interface includes an infrared (IR) interface, and wherein the signal transmitted by the transmitter is an infrared signal that is transmitted via the infrared interface directly to the appliance.
42. The control device of claim 41, wherein the infrared signal is transmitted to an infrared receiving port of the appliance.
43. A method comprising:
receiving at a control system from an originating device over a network a network packet having a destination address and including at least one command, wherein the at least one command is to control operation of a appliance, and wherein the control system includes a storage that contains information corresponding to a capability of the control system, the capability of the control system including a set of predetermined commands;
analyzing the destination address of the network packet to determine whether the network packet is intended for the control system;
identifying the at least one command from the network packet;
comparing the at least one command with the set of predetermined commands to determine whether the at least one command can be performed by the control system; and
transmitting a signal to the appliance to control operation of the appliance based on the at least one command when the network packet is determined to be intended for the control system.
44. The method of claim 43, wherein the originating device is one of a user device or a network device.
45. The method of claim 43, further comprising:
acknowledging receipt of the network packet.
46. The method of claim 43, wherein the transmitted signal is a wireless signal that is transmitted directly to a wireless receiving port of the appliance.
47. The method of claim 46, wherein the wireless signal is an infrared signal, and the wireless receiving port of the appliance comprises an infrared receiver.
48. A computer readable medium storing instructions executable by a processor, the instructions configured to cause the processor to perform the method of claim 43.
49. A system comprising:
an originating device configured to generate a command for controlling one of a plurality of appliances and transmit the command in a packet having a destination address indicating that the command is intended for a target control device having said address; and
a plurality of control devices including the target control device, each of the plurality of control devices having an address and storing a capability comprising a set of known commands, wherein each of the plurality of control devices is configured to:
receive the packet;
determine, based on a correspondence between the destination address of the packet and an address of the control device, whether the control device is the target control device,
determine whether the control device can perform the command by comparing the command with the stored set of known commands,
generate, based on the determination that the packet is intended for the target control device and the determination that the target control device can perform the command, a control signal based on the command; and
transmit the control signal to one of the plurality of appliances to control operation of the one appliance.
50. The system of claim 49, wherein the originating device includes a graphical user interface to facilitate control of the appliances by a user.
51. The system of claim 49, wherein at least one of the plurality of control devices includes a transceiver configured to acknowledge receipt of the packet.
52. The system of claim 49, wherein the plurality of control devices is coupled to the originating device via a network, and at least one of the plurality of control devices includes a radio frequency interface configured to receive the packet via radio frequency technology over the network.
53. The system of claim 49, at least one of the plurality of control devices includes an infrared interface, and the control signal transmitted to the one appliance is an infrared signal that is transmitted via the infrared interface.
54. A method comprising:
sending, via an originating device, a request for information regarding a capability of a control device, wherein the control device is associated with at least one appliance;
receiving, in response to the request, information of said control device, the information including a network address of the control device and the capability of the control device;
providing by the originating device a user interface including an indication of the at least one appliance and the capability of the control device;
receiving an instruction by said originating device, the instruction being for controlling a selected one of the at least one appliance;
determining, based on said instruction, a command and a destination network address associated with the control device associated with the selected appliance;
generating a network packet including the command and the destination network address;
transmitting the network packet to the control device;
analyzing, by the control device, the network packet to determine whether said destination network address matches the network address of the control device;
reading the network packet to identify the command;
comparing the command with a set of known commands stored by the control device to determine if the control device can perform the command; and
transmitting from the control device to the selected appliance, a signal including the identified command.
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