Apple recently patented a wireless touch-screen remote control concept that would automatically detect and communicate with existing and future consumer electronics appliances as well as computer systems.
According to the filing, each appliance -- such as a DVD player or iTunes app -- need only be discovered once. Discovered appliances would be added to a list of controllable items on the remote's touch-screen. When a user selects a specific appliance from the touch-screen menu, a set of interface controls pertinent to that appliance would appear on the screen. Devices that fall out of range of the remote would be represented by grayed listings.