Posted by: Rajesh Kanaparti | November 27, 2011

ios & android as your TV remotes

So in my living room, I have a Sony TV, Samsung Bluray, Magnavox surround sound system (wish I can say Bose) and ofcourse a PC and Wii  hooked up. Ok most of the time we watch movies or other episodes on PC (netflix & hulu). But everytime we need to watch some thing, I need to find TV remote, Keyboard & Mouse or bluray remote and  remote for Surround Sound.

This is becoming painful. So I thought why not use our smart phone for example in my case an iPhone as remote. Now this is 2 years ago that I thought about it. The other day when I was shopping, I accidentally saw Griffin Beacon Universal remote. It’s exactly my idea of using iPhone/Android as remote. So I got excited and bought it.

Now on to Setup:

Not many instructions, very intuitive. Especially the Dijit iPhone app is pretty cool.

So iPhone/Android app shall connect to Griffin Bluetooth Device. Works like a charm the first time itself. Then when you send a command from your smart phone app, the bluetooth device will send the appropriate IR command. This guys are genious. Yes I had the same idea but have no clue on how to achieve this.

Ok I installed the app and went through the wizard to add my devices. I was really praying that this will work as it is cool. Ok the remote needs to be very close to the beacon device. Problems started. I spent may be 30 mins pressing my tv remote that way the beacon device can catch IR signal that my TV remote is emitting and map that to the corresponding device command on the app. Again brilliant idea but the process is not smooth. I finally figured out that my Sony remote needs to be at an angle and within certian distance from the device. I was like ok this is working. So I went on mapping all the buttons on the map to all the buttons on remote. Idea is cool, app is cool. But it’s no where perfect.

What I observed is that the beacon device didnt work with my magnavox. For Sony Bravia LCD TV, I was able to control Power, CH up and down, Volume up ( no Volume down) from my iPhone. Kind of disappointed. But as an electrical engineer  background and with Software Engineering experience and with lot of experience in developing iphone & android apps and programming overall, I am still impressed with what they did. Is it perfect, not yet but can they make it perfect, hopefully pretty soon.

 Another idea that crossed my mind is all new entertaining devices should come with a bluetooth remote interface. Think about it, then we can develop apps to control the devices with our smart phones pretty easily.

Conclusion: Not ready for prime time. Don’t buy.

I really hope that Griffin will improve this universal remote and make it better that way it will work. I can understand the challenge, numerous devices to support and line of sight issues, not an easy problem to solve but they had a good start.

I guess I just need to buy a logitech Harmony for now . Or may be you know an app that can do that. If so please share it.

Life with technology is awesome. Well if you use it carefully.


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