DirecTV designs kid-friendly remote control

DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) has designed a kid-friendly remote control which contains fewer buttons and could be used to navigate content that is filtered by their parents, according to a patent application filed by the top satellite TV provider.

The new remote is designed to be an "auxiliary" device that DirecTV could supply to subscribers, according to the patent application, which was published Aug. 15. Images DirecTV submitted to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show a remote control that contains no numbers or functions such as menu, info, back or TV input selection. Kids would use arrow keys to navigate thumbnail images on an interface that would display networks such as Disney Channel, Baby First, Sprout and Nick Toons. Parents would be able to select which networks to display on the interface.

While DirecTV and other pay TV providers already offer subscribers parental controls that allow parents to block individual networks or limit access to programming based on content ratings such as G or PG, DirecTV said the current approach may be too complicated. "The settings are time-consuming to configure. One problem with multiple users is that settings may be inadvertently changed. Small children may press various buttons on the remote control device that allow the settings to be changed inadvertently. Resetting the settings may be time-consuming," DirecTV wrote in the patent application.

Some DirecTV rivals are pursuing different strategies for making it easier for kids to channel surf. In June, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated the X2 version of the company's interactive program guide, which contains six carousels, including a guide focused on kids' programming. Comcast has said it will launch X2 by the end of the year.

DirecTV SVP Space and Communication Technology Philip Goswitz is named as the lead inventor on the patent application, which is titled "Method and System for Configuring a User Interface or a Receiving Unit for an Auxiliary Remote Control Device."

DirecTV's kid-friendly remote is designed for easy use.

For more:
- see the patent application

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