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 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.