This Kickstarter project turns your smartphone or tablet into a universal remote, no IR blaster needed

by: J. Angelo RacomaAugust 27, 2014

Anymote device

The dawn of the Internet of Things is upon us. However, even if household appliances and everyday objects are increasingly becoming connected, not all devices are already capable of connecting to the grid via the Internet. Some analog devices like television sets, air conditioners, music players and the like are accessible through good old fashioned remote controls.

In the early years of smartphones, most leading devices and PDAs had IrDA transmitters and receivers, which enabled users to exchange bits and pieces of data, as well as double as remote controllers. Sadly, device makers have now considered this technology passé. Even one-way IR blasters are a rarity among smart devices, and could only be found in certain flagship devices like the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One and Xiaomi Mi4, which have this connectivity option. No luck for most others.

A startup called Color Tiger has designed a universal remote control hub that can be used with devices that do not have an IR blaster. Called AnyMote, the hub receives commands from your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, and then relays these to the intended device. AnyMote supports IR-compatible devices, including television sets, home theater systems, air conditioning systems and the like.

Anymote tablet

AnyMote is not just about remotely controlling your household devices, however. Being a smart remote, it can be used to combine and coordinate the control of devices, to enhance the user experience at home. For example, AnyMote will mute the TV set or pause the movie when you have an incoming call. Its “Sonos” system also controls devices and air conditioning systems smartly, depending on whether you’ve just arrived or already leaving. The app even has a movie mode that automatically turns off the lights, sets home theater volumes to just the right level and plays the set movie for you.

An advantage is that you can position AnyMote anywhere in the room and it can blast IR signals throughout a 360-degree range, which means line of sight should not be a problem even if you have various devices scattered around the area. Being battery operated, the device is not limited by wires or power supplies. A 2000 mAh alkaline cell should last one year with standard usage, according to the developer. AnyMote is compatible with iOS and Android, which enables users to control household devices with most popular models out there today.

Color Tiger has been playing around with prototypes for months now and has launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. $50 early bird units have all been taken, but you can still get yourself a single unit for $70. The project has so far garnered $37,657 in pledges out of its $50,000 target, which means it is likely to meet its goal with still 43 days to go.

Manufacture and shipping will take some time, though. Color Tiger expects to ship the device by May 2015, after production and FCC/CE approvals. If you can’t wait, you can try out the smart app from Google Play.

  • frankob

    Most TV sets and HiFi’s used today may not be connected to the internet, but most of them are not analog anymore, neither… I am not even sure you can use IR control on an analog amplifier (for example) at all, I have never seen such… O_o

    • bitbucket

      I don’t understand your comment. however, data: my DVD player and media streamer both have remote control via IR or network apps. all of my 2 channel gear has IR remotes only (but is 10-30 years old.). the device with the least open remote support in my stable is the firetv, which was bt-only until I put xbmc on it. the color tiger software is very flexible and fast.

      • frankob

        I was just pointing to the fact that devices that have IR remote control are also digital, and NOT analog, as wrongly stated in the article. Digital technology is FAR older than the internet.

        Both DVD and media streaming are digital technologies, so you rest my case. I am not sure what do mean by “2 channel gear” — a stereo audio amplifier, or complete Hi-Fi setup, I guess? But digital technology has been around for far more then 30 years, IR remotes for somewhat less, but still more than 30 years, so I guess this is it too.
        I have still never seen an analog device with IR remote control.

        • Matthew Smith

          the first ir receivers built into analog pre-amps and receivers were connected to actuators, and relays, and motor controls for analog volume controls and analog tuning wheels…

    • KBNJ

      An amplifier is by definition analog as it sends an analog (non-digital) signal to the speakers. Any amp made in the past decade or so most certainly contains digital components, but it’s primary purpose is an analog device.

  • BarleySinger

    One of the things that has puzzled me for ages is the way the the creators of consumer entertainment devices utterly ignored the computer revolution until FORCED into it (kicking and screaming all the way). Remote controls are one example. There has been a total lack universal remote standards (with no digitally signed packets). The result has been that every device MIGHT be reactive to any signal from any remote. Since the first VCRs, stereos and DVD players came around with remotes – they have had “cross talk”.

    By 1999 if you tried to change the channel (or volume) on your TV …. sure it worked…. and at the same moment you also fast-forwarded your VCR tape, ejected the disk in your CD player and told your Stereo to swap over to FM radio. All this could have been avoided by just doing the equivalent of sending digital packets (with MAC codes).

    You were also stuck with poor layouts for your remote control, long after LAPTOPS (at least) could send IR signals. In the era of smart phones, an IR-blaster let you have a better (far smarter) remote solution…BUT…you were still stuck with all of the terrible “cross talk” issues in which all remote signals can apply to any (or all) of the IR capable devices within reach.

    * Time Went On

    By 2002 the standard for Bluetooth v1.1 was out. Anyone in I.T. (or engineering) who had a functioning mind could see the implications, and tell this new idea OUGHT to be applied to remote controls immediately (and kill all the “cross talk” issues). Had this been done the signal would only apply to ONE device. With Bluetooth you could even have had 3 of the same model of a device and NOT have the signals get confused between them.

    The tech people (who bought a lot of home entertainment stuff) wanted their remotes to use Bluetooth and stop using simplistic IR frequency signals (with no way to tell one device form another). However the entrenched home entertainment companies did what they do best. They ignored the customers and the new technology and sat on their hands.

    This is why we have so many OTHER companies now, making PVR’s, streaming home entertainment devices that use HDDs and networks, Android TV, etc. We have THOSE companies (and all that cool entertainment gear) because companies like RCA, Phillips, Sony, Teac (etc) did not bother to “raise the bar”.

    Meanwhile it is now late 2015. That is 13 years after the 1.1 standard came out. And right now most of our high end “smart TV’s” are *still* using old fashioned IR signals (no network packets, lots of “cross talk”) for their remotes. Only a few use Bluetooth or wireless internet tech (even though the advantages are obvious).

    However for $100 to $200 (more or less) you can easily buy a “box” that will transform any TV (even an old CRT based TV) into a far better “Smart TV” than *any* of the “Smart TV’s” that are made specifically for that purpose (with multiple tuners, networking & streaming).

    I honestly have no idea how ANY of the old entrenched “Home Entertainment Companies” are still in business. It has to involve the fact that most of the consumers are not aware of their other options, and most of the places that people go to BUY “TV related tech” simply do not employ anyone who knows the field, so they do not sell (or explain) the other options.

    Those older companies have uninspired management. Outside of the actual high end PANELS such as the last generation of plasmas from Panasonic (oh how I miss them) and the new generation of OLEDs from LG – none of those big companies make anything in “Home Entertainment” that is worth buying (aside from a “sound bar”) and they haven’t in well over a decade. There are a huge number of better devices. They ought to go over to making SIMPLE panels, and leave the tuners, networking (and all of that) to OTHER companies willing to make “actual” products.