Apple's remote App for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad is a great alternative to the stock Apple TV remote. It makes it much easier to find shows and scan around Apple TV then the circular clicker that the older remotes use, this is thanks to the keyboard. You can read our hands-on with the App: Here.
It looks like Apple is trying to patent their method of controlling a device "having one or more menus via a remote touch interface" as is described below:
The present system and method is particularly useful for remotely controlling a device having one or more menus via a remote touch interface having at least an unstructured primary input area. A user can provide inputs to a touch interface without needing to view the interface and yet still achieve the desired response from the remotely controlled device. The primary input area of the touch interface may or may not have a background display, such as on a touch screen, but the primary input area of the touch interface should be unstructured and should not have independently selectable items, buttons, icons or anything of the like. Since the touch interface is unstructured, the user does not have to identify any selectable buttons. Instead the user can input a gesture into the interface and watch the remotely controlled device respond. The system does not provide any other visual confirmation.
That is all about Apple's Remote App. Which works over wifi to control other devices on the same network.