For better or for worse, our appliances are getting smarter. But like their simpler ancestors, they usually come with their own remote controls, be they physical controllers or apps. French startup Sevenhugs thinks it has the answer with SmartRemote, a touchscreen universal remote control for connected devices.
Ideally, SmartRemote works like this: you point it at your TV, and it turns into a TV remote, but when you point it at your LED bulb, it automatically switches to the color and brightness controls. And so on. Right now the remote works only with Philips Hue lights, Sonos speakers and the Nest Learning Thermostat, but Sevenhugs says it has an open SDK that will hopefully encourage companies and developers to make their devices compatible with SmartRemote.
In truth, the remote itself isn’t that smart. It works in conjunction with a mobile app and three location modules that plug into bulb sockets. For best results, the three modules should all be plugged in the same room. The app lets you pair the remote with any device that has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, while the modules serve as the remote’s compass. In short, the remote detects not what you’re pointing at, but where you’re pointing to. But you can use that limitation to your advantage. For instance, you can train the remote to show the thermostat controls when you point at your fireplace, or toggle the outdoor lights when you point at your window.
Sevenhugs plans on raising funds for SmartRemote on Kickstarter on February and start shipping on September. It seems like a magical device, but I’d still rather have it as an app on my phone or perhaps on a smartwatch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sensors on smartphones would be enough to let it determine its location and orientation on its own.