Apple filed a patent on August 2005 called “Apparatus and method to facilitate universal remote control”. Many media outlet suspected this is the patent for Apple set-top box iTV. The patent was for a method to use a single universal remote to control multiple home A/V appliances.
The patent reveals that the new remote will work with a plurality of appliances which includes one or more of a television, a video tape player, a video disk player, a stereo, a home control system, and a computer system with remotely controllable software (for example: a DVD player, a CD player, an MP3 player, or slideshow presentation software). The patent notes that this application is not restricted to only electronic appliances, but could also be used to control programs and functions that run on a computer system.
Patent office reveals Apple’s iTV inner workings [via gadgetell]