Home Entertainment Remote Controls Moving to Tablets and Phones
I had a side business once customizing programmable touch-screen remote controls for home entertainment systems. Although the results could be magical, the devices were expensive to buy and often more expensive to program. Not many people could afford them. The latest trend in remote controls is to use tablets, smart phones and even iPods as interface devices to control home entertainment, security and climate control systems. This makes a lot of sense. The devices have beautiful high-resolution screens and can easily be adapted to communicate with equipment via traditional infrared, Ethernet, several RF standards and directly via WiFi, which is being incorporated into an increasing number of electronic components. The professionals (the guys who install the $250,000 home theater systems) have embraced this new technology, but its true beauty, in my opinion, is that, with clever software, it can be adapted for Joe couch potato at a price he can afford and offer far more functionality than one can get with a Logitech Harmony, which is today the most popular universal remote control.
A new Silicon Valley startup, Cyphersoft LLC, just unveiled its “Roomie” remote control (www.roomieremote.com). To use it, you need an iPad, iPhone or iPod, an app you buy from the Apple Apps Store, and, depending on the equipment that you need to control, you may need to buy one or more adapters. (An adapter converts, for example, the WiFi IP signal from the remote device to the infrared signal needed to operate the equipment). Although Roomie is in its first incarnation and has limited functionality, just about anything can be done as the software evolves without requiring additional hardware.
Despite the efforts of the various “Occupy” protests around the country, the growing population of billionaires will undoubtedly keep the pros in business for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, I predict that we are sitting on the leading edge of a revolution in home electronic system control, one that will bring sophisticated, easy-to-use functionality to the average household at a price that most homeowners (and renters) will be comfortable with.