There was a time when the universal remote was considered high tech. Today smartphones and tablets are changing the way people think about the concept of the remote control.
The ability for a person to use their smartphone in place of a universal remote is a concept and application that’s been available since people began using smartphones. The original apps weren’t very efficient and required a user to turn on each individual device before being able to control them independently. The early apps let the user set up a macros so they could link the commands together. Users found it more frustrating than functional. If the user wanted to listen to a CD they’d have to use the CD player to control it.
Today the iPhone provides several applications that let the user control their home theater equipment with the use of their iPhone. These types of apps are also available for the Android and even BlackBerry user.
Most modern home entertainment devices are still operated by a remote control that uses an infrared (IR) light beam. Since Smartphones don’t come with an IR emitter, an external device is then needed to transmit the IR signal. This is accomplished with the use of a dongle that is easily attached to the Smartphone.
The trouble with doing this is that there is no universal IR blaster that can be used by all mobile devices. IR emitters which are dongle based are also proprietary to a specific app. If you use the app from NewKinetix for iPad or iPhone you can only use the IR dongle supplied by NewKinetix. iOS has the RedEye app that can only be used with iOS. There are also apps that use external boxes instead of apps. Using an external box means you don’t have to attach something to your phone, but you must have a particular box based on the app.
Most of the major cable, online or satellite companies now offer apps that can be used on smartphones to help people manage a variety of devices.
Sometimes people desire to switch between multiple entertainment devices in order to keep track of things happening in their home theater. Most people will be happy if they can just schedule shows for their DVR from anywhere at anytime. This can now be done using a Smartphone There is an Xfinity app from iTunes that permits control of a DVR that is for Comcast users. People with Android phones can use the TiVo Remote App. This is made possible because they connect to the TiVo over the internet.
People who use the Dish DVR are offered Sling capability. This enables users to watch shows on the device they’re using to control their DVR. This would be the PC, iPhone or Ipad.
Today a tablet, smartphone or computer can allow a user to have control over their devices by getting the proper app and taking the time to learn it. There may come a time when remote controls based on IR technology may become a thing of the past. This will mean a user’s ability to control devices from any place at any time without additional hardware could be a reality.
Victor Daily is an experienced technology and social media blogger,currently exploring topics related to cloud computing and IT services.