A Near Field Communications chip in future iPhones could be used to control digital devices around the home.
A new patent application, discovered by Apple Insider, reveals that Apple is interested in using NFC chips to allow an iPhone act as a remote control for various devices around the home, including other Apple products, games consoles, digital cameras or even sprinkler systems and thermostats.
"A person may use a wide variety of electronics each day, including computers and media players, televisions and other entertainment devices, thermostats and other utility devices, and/or consumer electronics such as digital cameras," reads Apple's patent description. "Each electronic device may generally be controlled locally or using an associated remote control device."
Apple's aim is to make controlling multiple devices using a single control, such as the iPhone. "The control information may be received from a near field communication interface of the controllable electronic device or from a radio frequency tag associated with the controllable electronic device."
Scanning a barcode with the iPhone could also pair electronic devices and provide control.
Other devices mentioned by Apple that could be controlled using an iPhone include a games console, video recorder, DVD player, TV, projector, light switch, home security system, and garage door.
The iPhone could use its weather app to help adjust the thermostat to the appropriate temperature, and could enable users to control a camera to zoom in and out, change other setting and capture a photograph.
This is not the first we've heard about the possibility of an NFC chip being introduced in the next iPhone. Data from alleged iPhone 5 prototypes lead developers to conclude that NFC will be used with Apple's new Passbook app, which is set to arrive with iOS 6 this autumn.
Apple has also filed a patent to use NFC to introduce a 'Gifting' feature that will allow users to share iTunes files through Playlists.
To read more about Apple's patent filing, you can refer to the extensive 114-page official document first filed by the company in March.