The Universal Remote Has Come A Long Way

Some folks may remember the techno avalanche of the late 1970s to late 1980s when one might’ve owned numerous electronic products that came with a remote control. Televisions, VCRs, music CD players, DVD players, dual audio cassette decks, AM/FM tuners and receivers, and even turntables each had a remote control. And if you were a techno junkie, you had a pile of remote controls on your coffee table, or in the dog’s mouth, each requiring its own set of batteries.

Users could barely remember what size batteries each remote took let alone what all the buttons and switches on the remotes actually did. If one was daring, one would push a mystery button. If one was lucky, nothing happened, but, more often than not, some unwanted event would occur that required turning everything off, possibly unplugging everything and calling a priest, to get operations back to normal.

What may have been one of the most useful devices to hit the market around that time period was the “Universal Remote”, a singular remote control that would operate all of one’s electronic toys. Naturally, it was not as simple as buying a universal remote, putting in some batteries, and everything just worked; the device needed programming. No code writing required, just going through a list of numeric codes in the user manual (usual printed on toilet tissue and in the finest, smallest print short of requiring a microscope to read) and matching the numerals to the maker of each of one’s components.

Some universal remote controls.

This programming process was time consuming, frustrating, and hard on the eyes, but if one was patient and endured, the device actually worked until the batteries died and one had to reprogram after replacing the power sources. You have to remember, this was before non-volatile memory was cost effective for use in low-cost consumer goods. At any rate, users often got frustrated and went back to using their familiar dedicated remotes, relegating the universal remote to the coffee table, or the dog’s mouth.

Said too often, yet often true, what goes around comes around. Enter the “first remote for everything. It will magically control your TV, lights and music and even order an Uber in the most simple and intuitive way.” Sevenhugs is launching its Smart Remote on Kickstarter.

According to the company, its patent-pending point and control technology enables Smart Remote’s screen to adapt automatically to any device. Pointing it at a device instantly displays custom controls to operate that particular device. Reportedly, Smart Remote is compatible with more than 25,000 devices including Samsung Smart TVs, Philips Hue and LIFX smart bulbs, Sonos speakers, Nest Learning Thermostat, and, obviously, many more.

Sevenhugs Smart Remote

Notably, Smart Remote lays claim to being the first consumer product to combine motion tracking sensors and an indoor positioning system. In addition to device control, it allows users to access services like Uber. Essentially, one could order a ride by pointing Smart Remote at the front door or check the weather forecast by pointing it at a window.

Additionally, Sevenhugs offers developers an open API and an extensive SDK to support continuous expansion of the remote’s features and services. Sevenhugs’ Kickstarter campaign goal for Smart Remote is $50,000. Early-bird Kickstarter pricing starts at $99 and its first backers will receive Smart Remote in June 2017. Smart Remote will be available at select retailers in Fall 2017 for $299.99. For more information, visit http://remote.sevenhugs.com

One question comes to mind. As it seems the majority of the masses are attached at birth to their smartphones and already do almost everything with and through those phones, how big will the market be for this Smart Remote? ~MD

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