If you live in a somewhat ordinary home, chances are it is cluttered with remote controls of every kind. And, while the universal remote of yesteryear could control your TV, VCR, cable box and a few other devices, the rise of smart homes is ushering in a new era of controllers that command everything from lighting and blinds to locks and of course, the entertainment system. As our living quarters become increasingly smarter, there will undoubtedly be a lesser need for those ‘dumb’ old remotes.
Buttons on a remote is so 2013. Moving ahead, manufacturers and Makers alike are revolutionizing the way you navigate on-screen interfaces, trigger devices inside your home, and so much more. We’ve compiled a few smart creations from this year that prove just that.
A Netherlands-based team of Makers has set out to simplify the way in which you interact with the world around you starting with the remote control. From turning on your lights to changing radio stations, SPIN remote is the only device you will ever need in the era of constant connectivity. While it may not eliminate buttons altogether, it does merge the ones that you actually use. The smart gadget is packed with a number of components including an Atmel | SMART SAM D20, along with a capacitive touchpad, 360° infrared LEDs, a low energy Bluetooth module, color LEDs, motion sensors and a buzzer — all housed in a shockproof metal casing. Its embedded series of sensors enable the remote to detect motion, rotation, orientation, touch and even proximity. Imagine how easy it’ll be to change the TV channel by merely turning a dial.
In an effort to bring the end to remote controls, eyeSight has unveiled a new device, aptly named onecue, that allows users to control their TV, room temperature, lights, blinds and more with just the swipe of a hand. Acting as a hub for everything in your home, onecue not only pairs with IoT devices like Nest thermostats and Philips Hue lights, but also lets users control less ’smart’ pieces of technology such as TVs and set-top boxes.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an actual Staples Easy Button? Well, the team at Shortcut Labs may have devised the next best thing. Flic is super simple, stylish and smart button that allows you to create a shortcut for up to three of your everyday tasks so that you no longer constantly need to reach for your device. And for those who are spooked at the mere thought of transitioning from a flip phone, the smart gizmo makes the functionalities of smartphone apps accessible to everyone. Flic provides connected home owners the ability to control each of their smart units — ranging from switching your Philips Hue lights on/off, to warming the water on your Honeywell Evohome, to arming your SmartThings lock.
Instead of having to toggle between all kinds of apps, Logitech has introduced its Harmony Ultimate Home remote to control it all. The system is capable of automating 270,000 compatible smart home devices including the Nest thermostat, Lutron dimmers, August smart locks, Philips Hue lights, SmartThings hubs, Zuli plus and more. And if you’re used to using your smartphone for everything or when you’re away from home, you can still use the Harmony mobile app to control everything inside your house. Logitech offers smart home owners to create, customize and trigger custom activities, whether that’s setting the mood for date night or setting the stage of guys’ night, all with one touch.
While more of a novelty item than anything else, beIN’s recent innovation certainly grabbed our attention earlier this year. During the World Cup, the company had given soccer fans a surefire, albeit annoying, way to command their TV sets. When the so-called GameChanger is blown, a mini microphone recognizes the vuvuzela sound signature, and instructs the platform’s [Atmel based] Arduino unit to respond. The board then sends IR LED signals to a cable box – commanding it to change the channel to beIN sports.
Fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign, California startup Color Tiger’s AnyMote Home is aspiring to fill the last gap in home automation by bringing you full control over IR controllable electronics like your TV, Blu-Ray player, amplifier, and AC unit. Through extreme power efficiency algorithms, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity and 360° control, AnyMote Home makes it easy for home owners to control their entire living room, by simply using their mobile device. In addition, the remote — which appears to have been prototyped using an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) — offers the ability to create macros through its Smart IR Remote app.
Developed by Thalmic Labs, the Myo armband is bringing Minority Report-like technology a step closer to reality. The ARM Cortex-M4 based wearable device allows users to interact with electronic devices through five distinct motion commands — wave left, wave right, spread fingers, fist, and thumb-to-pinky. With those simple movements, the Myo armband turns your hand into a controller for technology. Straight out of the box, the team reveals that it can do everything from control Netflix, media players and iTunes on your computer remotely to command each of your smart home technologies.
DIY Smart Remote
Instead of constantly using the process of elimination to figure out which remote controls your Blu-Ray player’s volume, Maker Tony DiCola designed a DIY smart remote that sought to solve the common problem An Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) was used as the brains of this smart device, as the Yun’s web connectivity capabilities were ideal for the situation. The Yún boasts a pair of processors, one of which runs the Linux operating system and can connect to wired or wireless networks. The device then used an infrared sensor and receiver to send signals to various entertainment devices ranging from the TV set to stereo system. With the Yún’s web capabilities in mind, the Maker was able to create a simple web interface to manage a complex home entertainment system with this remote.