Universal Control Hub – Standard-Based Middleware for the Digital Home

A Video Demonstration. The video is available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wElYM_nb7gI.

Trace R&D Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


(A person appears on the screen in a living room environment and starts speaking.)

Hi, I am Parikshit Thakur from the URC Consortium. Welcome to this live demonstration of URC or the Universal Remote Console. The URC technology provides you with personalized user interfaces that work on any handy device like your iPhone, Windows Mobile PDA or your Tablet PC and gives control to all the devices in your home or office.

(For the next paragraph, while Parikshit introduces the digital devices in his living room, these devices are shown: Sony Bravia LCD TV, Denon DVD Player, a Network Attached Storage device (network hard drive), EZFetch video Media Player device, Roku SoundBridge audio Media Player device.)

Let us see how the URC technology works. Here's an LCD TV controlled via Infrared. A DVD Player controlled via Serial Communication RS-232. A network attached storage device which stores all your music, videos and pictures and controlled via UPnP technology. A media player which streams all your music, videos and pictures on to the TV Screen. Another media player controlled via UPnP which streams all of your music on to the speakers.

(Parikshit holds an iPhone in his hand, and its screen is shown in a close-up view. A list with two items is shown on the screen, each with an icon on its left: "iPhone Interface – Standard" and "iPhone Interface – Simple".)

Now let us see how the URC technology works on an iPhone. The first screen that you see is "Pick an Interface". It lists all the user interfaces available to control the devices in your network. Let us select the first one, "iPhone Interface – Standard". (Parikshit uses his thumb to tap onto the first item on the list. A list of languages appears on the screen.) Select English. (Parikshit taps on "English". A menu appears with the following items: "Watch", "Listen", "Pictures", "Record", "Copy", "Power Down".) Select Watch. (He taps on "Watch". A list of options shows: "Live TV", "DVD", "My Recorded/Stored".) DVD. (He taps on "DVD". A DVD control screen appears with buttons such as play, stop, previous, next, rewind, fast forward, volume up, volume down, mute, closed captions, menu.) And play. (He taps on the play button, and a movie starts playing on the TV screen in the background. Also the symbol on the play button changes to a pause symbol.) You can also control mute of the TV (he taps on the mute button, and the TV goes silent, showing a "mute" icon) and start caption. (Captions appear on the TV Screen.)

(The iPhone shows the UCH home menu with the items "Watch", "Listen", "Pictures", "Record", "Copy", and "Power Down".) Let us listen to some music from your network attached storage device. (Parikshit taps "Listen", then "My Recorded/Stored", then "BUFFALOOLD LinkStation", then "Albums", then "Absolute Modern Worship for Kids", then "I Can Only Imagine". A list of two media players is shown: "EZFetch Digital Media Player", and "SoundBridge".) I get a list of media players. Let us select EZFetch connected to the TV. (He taps on "EZFetch Digital Media Player". A play panel appears, with a graphical album cover, the title of the song "I Can Only Imagine", its author "By Bart Millard", a time position indicator, and buttons for play, stop, previous, next, rewind, fast forward, volume up, volume down, and mute.) Play. (The play button is pressed. Music starts playing, and the symbol on the play button changes from play to pause.) You can also control volume. (Parikshit taps on the volume down button twice, and the music's volume decreases in steps.) Stop. (He taps on the stop button and the music stops.)

(The iPhone shows the UCH home menu with the items "Watch", "Listen", "Pictures", "Record", "Copy", and "Power Down".) Let us see pictures from your network attached storage device on to your TV screen. (Parikshit taps on "Pictures", then on "My Recorded/Stored", then on "BUFFALOOLD LinkStation", then on "Albums", then on "pictures", then on "2006", then on a folder called "2006-12-24 Rauhreif Pfullingen" (German title). A list of photos shows up on the screen, each with a thumbnail on the left). You can also see thumbnails of the pictures right here. (He taps on one of the photos. The photo is shown on the top of the iPhone screen, with buttons below for "start slide show", "previous" and "stop". At the same time the picture is shown full-screen on the TV screen in the background.) Now you see the image on your iPhone and on your TV.

(The iPhone shows a list of user interfaces with icons on the left: "iPhone Interface – Standard", and "iPhone Interface – Simple"). The second interface here is a simple interface for the iPhone. (Parikshit taps on the item for the Simple Interface and the screen shows a list of languages available.) Let us select that interface to play some music on to your SoundBridge. (He selects "English", then "Listen", then "My Recorded/Stored", then "Album", then "Absolute Modern Worship for Kids", then "I Can Only Imagine".) Let us select SoundBridge from the list of media players. (He selects "SoundBridge", and a play panel appears with a graphical album cover, the title of the song "I Can Only Imagine", its author "By Bart Millard", a time position indicator, and a play button, a "Skip" button, a "Stop" button, and two buttons for volume up and down.) Here you get a very simple interface with only some basic functionalities like play, stop, skip and volume. (He taps on the play button.) Let us start to play on the SoundBridge. (Music starts playing. The front panel of the SoundBridge device is shown with the title of the song, the album title and a time position indicator.)

(Parikshit holds a Windows Mobile PDA, showing on its screen a list of three user interfaces with icons.) The URC technology also works on the windows mobile PDA as shown here. (He uses a stylus to tap on the "iPhone Standard – Simple" item, then on "English", then on "Listen", and so forth until the play panel shows with the music item "I Can Only Imagine".)

(A tablet PC is shown, with a list of four user interfaces: "DragIt", "PlayIt", "iPhone Interface - Simple" and "iPhone Interface - Standard".) Here is a tablet PC and the "pick an interface" screen provides you with more interfaces because this is a powerful computer. Let us select "DragIt", the first interface. (Parikshit uses a stylus to select "DragIt – UPnP AV Client". In the following screen, titled "DragIt", three columns are shown. The left column is titled "Media Servers" and shows two media servers with icons: "Windows Media Player", and "BUFFALOOLD LinkStation". The middle column offers "Browse" and "Search" as radio buttons, with "Browse" selected. Underneath is a "Home" button and an "Up" button, and a text field with content "\". The right column, titled "Media Renderers", shows two devices with icons: "EZFetch Digital Media Player", and "SoundBridge".) DragIt is a powerful controller that lets you control all of the Media Servers and Media Players in your network.

(Parikshit taps on the "BUFFALOOLD LinkStation" device on the left column, and a list of folders appears in the middle column.) Let us select a song to play from the network attached storage device. (He selects the folder "Music Jukebox", then "Album", then "#1 Hits", then the music item "Why Not Me".) Let us drag and drop the song off to the EZFetch. (He drags the music item over to the EZFetch icon on the right. Music starts to play, and an animated graphic with dancing music notes is shown next to the EZFetch icon.) You can also increase the volume. (He presses a "+" button underneath the EZFetch icon, and the volume increases.) Stop. (He presses a stop button, and the music stops.)

(Parikshit's face appears on the screen.) The URC framework provides an open source technology that abstracts all network layer technologies and provides a personalized user interface to control the devices in your network. Please visit http://www.myurc.org for more information. Thank you.

(The final screen shows a slide with the following information: "Support provided by: Trace Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. This video was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, NIDRR grant number H133E080022. However, contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.")