Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Remote Control Through the Visual Information Stream

Technology #0951

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Lynn A. Conway
Managed By
Drew Bennett
Associate Director - Software Licensing 734-615-4004
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending


The availability of relatively inexpensive transmission of video signals has recently increased dramatically. With the proliferation of bundled telephone and video communications, the system may migrate towards communications systems whereby an operator can remotely access audio/video signals. Current systems which offer embedded control information in audio or video signals require expensive equipment to be located at both the sites with signaling and decoding devices that do not enable universal control of devices. Ideally, the site generating the control information would contain a multipurpose device, which could control a number of devices at remote sites.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a method and apparatus for enabling an operator to receive incoming video signal and imbed command information in an outgoing video signal in order to remotely control a device. The apparatus includes a device for generating command information in a visual icon, which is interpretable by the operator and conveys command information within the outgoing video signal. A processor receives the outgoing video signal and decodes the icon into the command information, and outputs to a device controller.

Applications and Advantages


  • Remote controlling of devices by embedding command information within video signals


  • Usable across multiple video standards (NTSC, PAL, SECAM etc.)
  • Control and visual information sent via the same communications link
  • Easy to use, simple, and inexpensive