For some time now there has been much speculation about a possible release of a universal remote control by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The company has filed several patents in the past that suggest it is working on an innovative media controller that would change the face of home media manipulation. Universal remote then is a slight misnomer but those devices are about as close as we have to what the computer giant seems to be designing. A new patent published today reveals key characteristics of how such a product may look and operate.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office released the new design today and it was immediately picked up by Apple rumor traders. The patent was originally filed by the company in the third quarter of 2010 which signifies how far along the project may have come at this stage. The main features show a device that could customize its controls from a picture of the TV, Blu Ray player or other device, analysed by Apple’s servers through iCloud. The device would be able to control your media, and possibly remote control lighting and other features, by syncing with the design of the device itself, identifying its unique controls. This removes the tedious entering of reams of codes that most current universal remotes require.

If Apple is serious about this project, and from previous statements that seems likely, we could be on the verge of a modern household entirely controlled from a simple Apple product. The device could feasibly operate any remote controlled device including door locks, security systems and kitchen appliances, not simply media electronics. The future Apple describes in this patent could be breathtaking.

If we know anything about Apple’s design in the recent past it is that they almost entirely create the markets they are operating in with their devices. The iPad brought tablet computing to its current popularity and the iPhone brought touchscreens, and Apps to the fore. Their last decade has entirely changed the way we do our computing on a daily basis. If their aesthetic were to invade our homes there’s no telling what it could mean for the future. It is important to be wary however. Apple is known to file multiple patents, many of which never come through in their products. They are after all a design firm at heart. Everybody is still waiting for the often speculated Apple Television that has yet to be seen.