How long will it be before the smartphone in your pocket literally does everything you want it to? Already most people have a phone which has replaced the need for a digital camera, personal music player, portable radio, pocket calculator, notepad and much more.
If there is something that your phone can’t do but you wish it could, there’s sure to be someone working on an app for it somewhere.
So, how about turning your phone into a remote control for just about everything in your house? No more looking for that TV remote down the back of the sofa – unless that’s where you phone has ended up of course!
Dedicated remote controls have been on the way out for quite some time, mainly due to the proliferation of devices in the home. The ‘universal remote’ has come to play several roles but even this is a bit too cumbersome and increasingly old fashioned for modern audiences.
People like smartphones and tablets for their ease of use and new apps mean that they can act as controllers for just about anything. The iPhone has led the way in this field and if you look at iTunes for “universal remote” you will receive numerous hits, although many of them are proprietary.
Most remotes these days work via infrared technology but smartphones don’t have an IR emitter so some kind of external device is required to send IR signals. This usually means a dongle that connects to the phone but these are often made for a particular service. One Android phone, the Lumigon T1 has a built-in IR emitter and this is something we may start to see an increasing amount of.
The new generation of television sets such as those available from smart TVs retailer-Richer Sounds are opening up the field even more with gesture control and facial recognition applications set to change the way we interact with our TVs even further.
A current example of using your smartphone to control your TV is the Re from NewKinetix. It comes in two parts, namely a free iPhone app and an IR dongle. The dongle attaches to your iPhone power connector socket which means you have to use your phone upside-down when operating the app.
The Re software presents codes in numbered lists with each number referring to a different family of similar products, much in the way any normal universal remote does when you are setting it up. A neat trick is the learning capacity whereby you can position it face to face with the original remote and it will transmit the correct codes to your iPhone.
Re is an activity-based remote, so after you add all your different device remote codes you then add activities depending on the function of the device. There is a device-specific menu which you can customise by simply adding extra buttons for various activities.
Of course the main thing about this approach is that you can add all the devices in the house from each different room. Ultimately this means you never need more than one remote: your iPhone or iPad.