All Giz Wants: A Real Universal Remote

Illustration for article titled All Giz Wants: A Real Universal Remote

All Giz Wants isn't about wanting what we have now. It's about wanting what we should have now, what's technically possible but practically improbable. Here's an item I've been (wet) dreaming about for some time—a universal remote that's really universal. I don't mean to control both a Blu-ray player and an HD DVD player. I mean to control my TV, computer and the air popper.

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This is what I imagine: an IR/various 2.4Ghz technology remote with a touchscreen interface to control the more basic functions of any electronic device I own. Here's what it would have:

• A touchscreen interface would work perfectly here. On/Off should always be in the same spots right on top with some sort of standard button layout a la Harmony, or layouts could graphically mimic the devices I want to control for a more intuitive system with less reading. Want to turn on the shower? Then just twist the on-screen knob. Turning off the lights? Just flick the switch.

• Proximity sensing could automatically pick up local "favorite" items for me to control. That way I'm not searching through menus all the time.

• Trigger activated voice recognition is a must for the most simple commands. Just like I'm calling in for an air strike, I could walkie-talkie "teapot on!"

• Obviously consumer electronics manufacturers would need to decide on some standards. But they can have a choice: IR, 802.11n and Bluetooth will all be in my little remote. Actually, no. Screw IR. We're officially in the future and I never want to worry about line of site again...we'll keep it for backward compatibility.

• Two button syncing. You activate the device while you activate the remote. Done.

• Fingerprint recognition activation keeps it more secure than you bank account.

• Oh, and maybe my cellphone should be in this thing, too. That way I can lose both the remote and my mobile at the same time. And besides, it's already got my touchscreen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and super-kinetic-recharging battery (sorry, forgot to mention that).

Monster Cable's attempt to control your home theater's lighting system wasn't bad, but we need to multiply that idea by about 1,000. We shouldn't need fancy, expensive home automation to make this work. Most of us already have our own Wi-Fi networks, and face it, wall controls are so 1980s. If someone could invent this by Christmas and leave it on my doorstep, that'd be just great.

DISCUSSION

dinther-old
Dinther

The biggest problem with the current generation of remote controls is that they are assumption based and only go one way. You press the "1" key and the command is send out but noting will actually check to see if it is done.

My friend had a very expensive remote control system installed in his mansion. This "universal" system would send out pre-learned remote control signals to a range of devices. But it doesn't work because there are no feedback loops.

Many years ago I designed a remote that uses two way communication. The device tells the remote what is going on and the remote tells the device what to do.

It would not use touch screens because indeed they suck but more a mini ATM machine approach.

A small display with line select buttons on either side would provide information, menu's, selection options, current playing MP3 and so on. Scroll wheels on both sides of the remote will provide scroll type selection, volume control, and whatever else needs a value set.

Realistically the remote receiver is a computer that on it's turn will issue what ever commands are required to the various devices.

I'd be such a fun project to work on. Come on who will hire me to take this design further?

Dinther Product Design Ltd vandinther@gmail.com