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The Ultimate Universal Remote Control 277

Posted by timothy
from the ultimate-is-a-strong-claim dept.
TheMayor writes: "CNN.com has a story about how researchers at Maya Designs, Inc. and Carnegie-Mellon are trying to come up with a remote control that controls everything in your house. From the TV to the blender, these guys want to make an all-in-one piece to turn everything on and off. Now I wonder if I could remotely flush my toliet?"
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The Ultimate Universal Remote Control

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  • Now I wonder if I could remotely flush my toliet?
    That'd be cool--wait for someone else to go to the bathroom and flush it while they're sitting down.
    • Back when we were silly freshman (at CMU), I hid a PC running Linux in the bathroom ceiling and had it play outrageously loud music while people were on the john. They had to decide whether to finish their business or get up and find out who was responsible for "Put It In Your Mouth." Clever little things, weren't we?
    • It'd be funnier if it was a beday...
    • ...lowered the seat by remote control, or better still automatically if your wife (any female SO or relative) carried her remote near it and the toilet wasn't being used.
  • only have to lose 1 remote
  • I remember an (older) neighbour asking me how to record on their new VCR. I looked at the remote and asked 'have you got the instructions?'. I guess when your remote is a P4 it's not a question of whether it can do everything, it's a question of whether you can make it do anything?
  • by inwoo (463512)
    a remote that controls everything?... let it control my wife..
  • It was called Plug-N-Power (I think, it was a long time ago). They even had software for the Deskmate GUI that their Tandy computers came with that could plug into this big "master remote" that could program things to turn on and off at certain times.

    I'm not sure if RadioShack even still sells it, but it's not really a new idea.
  • Check out the finished product [allowe.com]. Who wouldn't like to get their hands on one of these?
  • These guys made software for the iPaq that does the following:

    "The prototype handheld has so far been used to control two lamps, a fan and a stereo with a five-CD changer. "

    Worst slashdot story ever - and this is worthy of a CNN story???? Give me a break. Check out the mega-remotes from Philips and Marantz if you're looking for a product like this.
    • Even better, check out some [crestron.com] of [crestron.com] Crestron's [crestron.com] products [crestron.com].

      (Nope, don't work for them. I did, once upon a time, pretend to program them for multi-$k home theater systems. They make, AFAIK, as advanced a remote control system you can find. Period. Flushing toilets via remote DTMF dialin is trivial compared to the things people do with Crestron gear on a daily basis.)
  • by mbourgon (186257)
    (feel free to answer - easier than Ask Slashdot!)

    I'm having a house built. I can't touch things until I move in, but then I can retrofit. Some of the things I see include the tile warmer (no cold feet), the mirror warmer (no fog), IR light switches (walk in and it turns on).

    What else would y'all recommend? I'd rather have a smarter house than a smarter remote. Oh, and I don't want to give X-10 any of my money. The last thing I want to do is encourage their ads.
    • Get your house Lutron controlled, it uses rf instead of X-10 and is a lot more accurate. Heard a lot of people being woke up in the night due to a X10 light reading a power signal incorrectly. www.lutron.com
    • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Saturday August 31, 2002 @10:32PM (#4178959) Homepage Journal
      If you're having it built, have low-voltage relays installed throughout the house. The whole procedure is extremely well-documented in the "Time-Life Home Handyman" series of books, more precisely the "Advanced Wiring [allbookstores.com]" book.

      The idea is to have a 12 volts 2 coil latching-relay on each lighting circuit. Since they are latching relays (one coil to turn it on, and the other to turn it off), they can be controlled by as many momentary SPDT switches as needed; you can also have as many "master consoles" as you need which consist of two rotary dials, one to turn on and the other to turn off the light.

      Some relays even offer a low-voltage "indicator" line, so the master console can have pilot lights to indicate which lights are on.

      I am surprised that this system is not more widespread in fancy homes, as I remember going to a school more than 30 years ago that had it's lighting controlled by that system.

      What's neat about it is that the big expensive high-votage wire (which has to be installed by a qualified electrician) only goes from the breaker panel to the light fixtures, instead of snaking through the walls to the light switches (and don't get me stated on the 3 or 4 way switches!!!). As the control is done through low-voltage, light switches can be extremely small and unobtrusive.

      Of course, it goes without saying that interfacing those to a computer would be an outright breeze...

      • Ooh, honey, turn on the romantic lights...

        'clak' 'clak' 'clak.'

        What was that?

        The relays going into sexy mode.

        Do me!

        Not joking, though, the real limitation that I see is that there is no variable intensity. Most of the people who want fancy lighting systems want to have fancy scenes and modes. Also, the relay sound is annoying as heck.
      • I had this in a house 18 years ago. Problem is that a relay (solenoid actually) doesn't understand the concept of "dim", and they ARE noisy. We had the box in the basement and you could hear the solenoids on most of the first floor of the house. Being mechanical, they DO fail.

        Not only is this simplistic, it doesn't retrofit well, and only addresses a small portion of home control issues. I mean really, ON/OFF lighting control only is pathetic, not to mention mostly useless. It was mainly designed for commercial use to centrally control lighting with a timer system. Most large retail stores use this kind of thing.
    • Use Lonworks [echelon.com] compatible hardware. It's an open standard. They have been around for over 10 years and the technology is being embedded into just about everything.
  • With Trey Parker and Matt Stone from South Park? Remember the scene where Orgazmo [imdb.com] and Choda Boy walked around town making all sorts of people (the old lady for instance) orgasm on command by remote control? See the connection? Um, never mind...
  • I have yet to see a universal remote that actualy:

    A: Was universal

    or

    B: Did not take a universally large amount of time to setup.

    I am a Nerd, I have an IQ of 156, I throw computer boxes together with reckless abandon, I have done tech support in my sleep, but the damn universal remote control still is not all that 'universal'. (and even those that are end up depreciated the second the latest wave of new devices come out. . . .)

    Number pad

    Play/Stop/FF/RW/Pause/Eject/Power

    Volume up and Volume down

    Channel up and Channel Down.

    Everything else after that is rather extraneous. . . .

    And quite frankly I should not need a 30 button remote for just my DVD player. This is why I only view DVDs on my computer, faaar easier, don't have to switch around audio and video inputs until hell freezes over, then select the proper audio decompression scheme, then select the proper surround sound scheme, and THEN sit down and 'enjoy' the movie, and then have the honor of switching all that shit BACK to watch regular TV.

    No thank you. . . . I can pop a DVD in my computer's drive and it starts playing, and when it is done I take it out, close the program, and I am done. End.

    Doing all of that in the first list above would require a 'universal remote' with more keys on it then my keyboard (all of the various device's special buttons and such) either that or a control scheme that changed its own layout for each device mode that was switched to (which would almost be even worse since memorizing key presses and locations would become a ton harder with a constantly shifting pad depending on which 'mode' it was in).

    Quite frankly I think that I'll stick with just pairing the remotes up together with rubber bands. Harder to lose that way, and a ton less complicated.
    • by cscx (541332) on Saturday August 31, 2002 @10:45PM (#4178999) Homepage
      I have an IQ of 156
      [...]
      This is why I only view DVDs on my computer, faaar easier, don't have to switch around audio and video inputs until hell freezes over, then select the proper audio decompression scheme, then select the proper surround sound scheme, and THEN sit down and 'enjoy' the movie, and then have the honor of switching all that shit BACK to watch regular TV.


      Here is my question: Since you're so smart, why is it such a difficult task for you to use a console DVD player? I mean, it's not that hard really. 5 to 10 seconds tops, insert DVD, push play, that's it. I simply can't see how you would prefer sitting hunched over your computer to watch a DVD than using a TV.
      • Here is my question: Since you're so smart, why is it such a difficult task for you to use a console DVD player? I mean, it's not that hard really. 5 to 10 seconds tops, insert DVD, push play, that's it. I simply can't see how you would prefer sitting hunched over your computer to watch a DVD than using a TV.

        Insert DVD;

        pick up remote #1, set video input to CD (closest label to DVD that the remote has on it)

        Pick up remote #2, set audio input to LaserDisc (closet thing remote has to DVD on it), set audio output format to 5.1 surround.

        Still using remote #2 turn up volume on receiver, because even my DVD player at max still puts out barely a whisper at what makes the output from my cable box boom.

        Pick up remote three, press play, goto settings, select audio out method (there are three of them, different DVDs apparently use different types, beats the crud outa me, rather irritating), turn of subtitles (apex .... ).

        When DONE with video;

        pick up remote #1, set video input back to VCR (since cable is routed through VCR and all, digital cable, yummies, RF connectors. . . . bleh), pick up remote #2, set sound mode back to faux 5.1 (copying front speakers to rear speakers), set audio input back to VCR, rush to turn down master volume because it is way to loud.

        Now, please do compare this to:

        Put DVD in drive;

        Sit back and enjoy on my 36" computer monitor (E-bay rocks) with 4.1 speaker setup (ok ok it is not 5.1 but it works!).
        • pick up remote #1, set video input to CD (closest label to DVD that the remote has on it)

          Most receivers made within the last few years have video switching built-in; hence the elimination of step #1.

          Pick up remote three, press play, goto settings, select audio out method (there are three of them, different DVDs apparently use different types, beats the crud outa me, rather irritating), turn of subtitles (apex .... ).

          Uhh, no. Set it to output SPDIF digital @ 5.1. Analog output DVDs will output over the RCA cables, the 5.1 over the digital coax. A decent receiver will let you hook up both at the same time, therefore routing the proper signal over the proper cable, and the receiver switches to digital only when there is a digital signal.

          For the subtitles (yeah that's an Apex/Daewoo bug) go into the configuration menu, set subtitles to "OFF" and they will be off by default now.

          I suggest you sell the 36" monitor and go buy yourself a nice $200 receiver that does all the above mentioned and more.
      • I simply can't see how you would prefer sitting hunched over your computer to watch a DVD than using a TV.
        This may come as a surprise to you, but many people have bigger, better computer screens than televisions. People in dorms often use their 19" moniters as their TVs by using a tv capture card. My goal is to get a projector screen for my computer so that my entire wall can become my computer screen. That would be great for TV, DVDs, and Counter Strike! And yes, my computer screen is nice and big, higher resolution than my TV, and in front of a couch. I don't feel 'hunched over' when watching it at all.
    • I have an IQ of 156
      Big deal. What's your karma like, genius? I bet you haven't even figured out how to get past "Excellent" yet.
    • I have yet to see a universal remote that actualy:

      A: Was universal


      Not seen any ir based remote my pronto can't handle yet.


      B: Did not take a universally large amount of time to setup.


      That depends on what you mean by large. A pronto is configured on a computer so that speds things up a great deal.


      And quite frankly I should not need a 30 button remote for just my DVD player. This is why I only view DVDs on my computer, faaar easier, don't have to switch around audio and video inputs until hell freezes over, then select the proper audio decompression scheme, then select the proper surround sound scheme, and THEN sit down and 'enjoy' the movie, and then have the honor of switching all that shit BACK to watch regular TV.

      Or do is I do: have a big button that says DVD on the remote, which when pressed selects correct input on the TV and amp, then reconfigures the remote display for DVD playback control. My amp is five years old, but even that is able to correctly autoselect decoding, what kind of archaic hardware have you been using?


      No thank you. . . . I can pop a DVD in my computer's drive and it starts playing, and when it is done I take it out, close the program, and I am done. End.


      Funny.. After several hours of configuring DVD playback software on a PC I found that the playback software wasn't able not to reformat anamorphic material. Since the videoencoder was unable to sync to 16:9 square pixel modes (internal videoencoders in gfx cards does not have component outputs, which I require). End result was that the PC based system was unable to output 16:9 anamorphic pictures, resulting in significant image degradation.

      And don't even get e started on the general unreliability and unfriendlyness on PC surround sound systems. Most of the time, it seems they assume you want some strange effects applied, or they refuse to decode at all. In contrast in my regular DVD setup i just have a regulat 75 ohm cable from the digital out of the DVD to the DVD s/pdif input of the amp, the rest just works.
  • what happens when you get hacked?
    - the toilet flushes
    - the blender is on 'liquify'
    - the vcr is recording over your tape
    - the garage door is open and security off
    - the disposal is on
    - the dishwasher is on
    - the room lights strobe left to right
  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Saturday August 31, 2002 @10:24PM (#4178927) Journal
    If you have to remotely flush your toilet, odds are you're doing something wrong.
  • There are four remotes in my living room: TV, VCR, cable box and DVD player. Most functions are handled by the cable box remote, which has some universal remote functions. However, there are still some device-specific functions that require each remote control to be present. For the technology-oriented individual, more buttons is clearly more of a status symbol than one. So what's the ideal solution?

    **Turn all your remote controls into a huge remote keyboard!**

    All you have to do is get a short piece of plywood or balsa wood and velcro the remotes to each, placed tightly together. The end product will be more than a remote control, it will be an audio/video command console!
  • Research?

    Are they talking about universal remote controls? The Philips Pronto TSU2000 [remotecentral.com] and VAR derivatives, like the Yamaha RAV-2000 [remotecentral.com] and Marantz RC5000i [remotecentral.com] are not "in research" products - they are current universal remotes with a user defined interface. If you had a Microwave that accepted IR controls, these would work with it, and quite nicely so. If they are interested in bringing a universal remote to the market, they have a tough act to follow.

    Or are they researching controlling everything in the normal house? Like using Bluetooth [bluetooth.com] wireless technology, or using JNDI [sun.com] as a naming and control mechanism? (Well, they used X-10, but that's besides the point) If that is their focus, I wish them luck in bringing the industry into a situation where they both care and cooperate with standards.

    They seem to be doing everything with RF (not IR) wireless technology, but that is both uncommon and unsupported on current and legacy systems. I don't know how they plan on supporting, in a cost effective way, IR and wireless in a single remote, as well as all the wireless devices you would have to deploy around the house to justify the cost of the remote. Perhaps in a market of sufficient scale this would be viable.

    • Most likely they would use an RF -> IR device that you plunk in front of the IR components to be controlled. I used to use an IR extender that I picked up about 10 years ago that used RF to do the "extending." It's a trivial device.
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday August 31, 2002 @10:40PM (#4178984) Journal
    The biggest pain in the ass with "universal" remotes is that you have to spend at least a whole afternoon programming the !@# thing. Very !@# convenient...

    So, what if you had a setup where you could call the company, their support staff'd ask for your model numbers, and they'd program it remotely!

    Oh, and can you imagine, on this remote control, a big, back-lit display so that you could see what !@# button to push to turn the !@#!@ thing down?

    So, what you have is a device that:
    1) Can communicate with the parent company,
    2) Has alot of buttons,
    3) A small CPU in it,
    4) A large backlit screen.

    Sounds an awful lot like a cell phone, eh?

    No, really! Just put an I/R LED at the end of your cell phone, it'd make an EXCELLENT UNIVERSAL REMOTE.

    • by joshki (152061) on Saturday August 31, 2002 @10:56PM (#4179041)
      :) Thats funny -- just last night my niece (18 months old) picked up my cell phone (nokia 6360 with IR port on the top) and pointed it at the TV... :) I got a good laugh out of it -- but it really is a good idea.
    • Uh, I've had a Kyocera smartphone for somewhat over a year now, and it has an IR LED on its end. This is because it's also a Palm Pilot, and they all have IR LEDs. Most of them can now be turned into phones, too; mine just came packaged that way.

      So far I haven't seen any "remote control" software available for download. I guess they skipped over such important things, and spent their time on lesser ideas like wireless IP, a browser, email, and so on.

      Maybe they'll turn into remote controls next year. When they do, I don't think I'll get the software, though.

      • I had remote control software for my Palm VII. I think I grabbed a demo from download.com or somewhere similar. It was programmed by pointing the original remote at the Palm's IR port, which read the signal and duplicated it to a button on the remote control app.

        kinda neat software, although whipping out my Palm to change channels always seemed more awkward than just using the original remote.
      • There's already a variety of software for Palms that provide remote control capabilities.

        OmniRemote [pacificneotek.com] is the first one to come to mind, but it's not the only one out there...

        • ConnectedTV [connected.tv] for the Palm takes the universal remote control idea a few steps further, combining a personalized television guide with an automatic universal remote control. So you never have to press in channel numbers: instead you just touch the name of the show you want to watch, and ConnectedTV sends the numbers to change the channel.

          "Touch Tuning" with ConnectedTV is like speed dialing with the remote: you can forget all those channel numbers, and easily operate ConnectedTV with one hand. ConnectedTV features "pie menus [piemenu.com]," which enable you to quickly and reliably select several different commands from one button by stroking in different directions.

          ConnectedTV is indispensable if you have hundreds of digital cable or satellite channels, because you can filter out the channels and shows you don't like, and mark your favorites so they're easy to find whenever they're on.

          -info@Connected.TV [mailto]

    • Don't complain about your universal remote, buy a good one (the right one) and be done with it. Get a MX-500.

      Learning, backlit, programmable out the wazoo, controls 10 devices, and did I mention learning?

      I've not had a single issue since I bought the thing. It kicks butt, and if you dig around I'm sure you'll find a good deal on it.

      It replaces up to 10 remotes. And it does it right. Every single button learnable. I love my mx-500..
  • PDA? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AndyAMPohl (573700) on Saturday August 31, 2002 @10:43PM (#4178994)
    I like remotes that only need one hand to operate, and that you don't need to look at to see what you're pressing. I don't know. Might seem crazy.
    • One handed operation is an extremely important feature for a universal remote control, which should be purposefully designed into the user interface from the day one.

      ConnectedTV [connected.tv] for the Palm is a universal remote control integrated with a personalized television guide, that's designed to be easily used with one hand.

      Like Mozilla and The Sims, it features "pie menus [piemenu.com]", which enable you to easily and reliably select several different functions from each button, without using (and losing) the stylus. Pie menus make ConnectedTV more powerful per square inch than physical remotes that only support one function per button.

      The buttons are big enough to easily select with your finger, and have useful functions in different directions. For example, stroking left or right scrolls to the previous or next page. You can stroke up on the name of a show to find out more about it, or stroke down to watch it, and ConnectedTV sends the numbers to change the channel, without you having to know or press any digits.

      "Touch Tuning" with ConnectedTV is like speed dialing for the remote control. It also functions as a hot list and spam filter, so you can easily mark and find your favorite shows, while hiding shows you don't like. It's much better than the slowly scrolling on-screen guide, because it doesn't block the tv screen, you can take it anywhere with up to two weeks of guide, and use it at your own pace.

      -info@Connected.TV [mailto]

  • Yeah...would be nice to be able to control my house from the iPaq and wireless connection, but what I really want is to be able to be able to walk out of the bathroom, say "flush the toilet", walk into the living room say "play cd 5" (which would turn on the receiver, cd player and play that cd), say "oven on at 450" and "lights on".

    Much better than walking around trying to punch little buttons on the iPaq. Of course I want all the voice recognition to work just fine with the cd player turned up to 11.
  • Why must they make such inane statements?

    Secondly, there are many items that would never be in need of remote control as many have many manual operations to do before actually use them.

    Areas that I find valid are.

    1. Lighting
    2. Heating/Cooling
    3. Changing temperature of hot water heater
    4. Garage doors.
    5. Perhaps windows that open/close automatically?
    6. Ovens for preheat.
    7. Coffee makers, setup in advance, but we have timers for this.
    8. Gas Fireplaces
    9. Perhaps, being able to remotely shut off the gas in the house or water would be a safety benefit.
    10. Alarm clocks, won't have to go back upstairs to turn it off, after all you got so used to the snooze button you forgot it actually has an off switch.
    11. Turning off ringers on the phones.
    12. Forcing the anwsering machine to pickup.
    13. Remote start of television recording.
    14. Music and/or Tv (background noise)

    But not the majority of kitchen appliances :) - or vacumns, unless just to spook your pets.
    • ..But not the majority of kitchen appliances :) - or vacumns, unless just to spook your pets

      Actually, don't laugh-It works! Prior to our last move, my wife and I allowed our two cats to jump on, sleep on, kneed on, and otherwise abuse our livingroom furniture, but one of the first things we did when we moved was to replace the old furniture with new furniture. As hard as it was to do, this necessitated making the new furniture a "no go" zone for the cats, both of whom had gotten very use to the idea that it was their domain (the reason, btw, is because I have not, and will not, get my cats declawed, however they damage upholstery just by moving around as they insist upon using their claws for added stability). Quickly they learned that any transgressions in our presence would lead to a rapid shushing, and they stopped, but I knew by tell tail crinkles on the surface that I'd carefully smoothed as a test that they'd ventured on the forbidden land during the night, and when we were away. Anyways, I set up one of the X10 infrared sensors on the edge of the couch (the "Hawkeye II", I believe :-}), and hooked up a vacuum cleaner in the on position to a nearby X10 controlled relay. That night, in the middle of the night, I was jarred awake by the sound of a cat scurrying up the stairs, and a vacuum humming away. After several nights of sporatic vacuum activations, the lesson was learned and the cats equated the couches with bad things, and ceased going on them. Anyways, long story short (whoops, too late for that now!), it worked great.
  • I have a Marantz RC5000i, the same hardware unit as the Pronto TSU-2000. It controls EVERYTHING. My setup is a little complicated since I have a TiVo as well as a cable box that does High Definition. The TiVo doesn't do HD so I have to swap inputs to go from TiVo to HD and back. With a normal remote it was a mess.... Switch the TV input, switch the receiver input, change the channel...etc..etc....

    These remotes have great macro routines. One button and it changes the channel and handles all the background work. Well worth the money. Even controls my Rio Receiver.

    The GUI is completely customizable with many sample configs and device setups already at www.remotecentral.com. The good part of that is you can set it up how you use it, not just throw buttons on the screen. I don't use the 50 buttons on my receiver remote, so why deal with them?
  • ...a remote control that controls everything in your house.
    Everything? Then who does the controlling?
  • Now I wonder if I could remotely flush my toliet?"

    John already did that on Ally McBeal...

  • CNN.com has a story about how researchers at Maya Designs, Inc. and Carnegie-Mellon are trying to come up with a remote control that controls everything in your house.
    Really? If it can control my existing Universal Remote, I'll buy it, because no one else in my house seems to be able to figure out how to control it.

    Too-Many-Cooks-In-The-Kitchen Law: At some point, it actually becomes more efficient to have multiple remotes.

  • by -tji (139690) on Saturday August 31, 2002 @11:57PM (#4179245) Journal
    Devices already exist to do this, without their kludgery of needing a laptop to actually do the IR transmission.

    The Philips Pronto [philips.com] is the most popular of the fully programmable universal remote. You can control thousands of devices with the Pronto, including X10 modules to control lamps, fans, and other appliances.

    It has a PC application to set set the GUI for controlling all the devices. It comes pre-programmed for many devices, and just about any other can be downloaded from various internet sites or manufacturers.

    The GUI to program it has a bit of a learning curve. If they wanted to make that process even easier, they could have saved a lot of effort by just making a better config GUI, rather than re-inventing the hardware.

    Another option, if you really want a PDA as your remote is the Nevo [remotecentral.com] software for the new iPaq, which includes a more powerful IR transmitter.
    • The philips pronto is an overpriced POS. A better deal is the Visor Basic with the OmniRemote module from Pacific Neotek [pacificneotek.com] (shameless plug for my friend's company) which will do all the same shit (including X10 control) for significantly less money, and if you get really froggy you could also use AvantGo to suck the TV listings into it, or play games on it, or whatever.

      The omniremote module also can optionally come with a blue LED for use as a flashlight. It's pretty damn cool stuff. I have one, and if my visor screen weren't cracked I'd use it nonstop.



    • The point is that one should not have to "program" the remote. From a human interface standpoint it's insufficient to say "the learning curve is a bit high...". There should be no learning curve, not when it's a device for the masses. That's what the revolution is about... it's not about designing the hardware, it's about designing the interface.

      "Maya and Carnegie Mellon claim people using their Personal Universal Controller, or PUC, could operate a stereo twice as fast and with half the errors that are made in running it manually -- without taking days to learn how."


      For the record, I work for MayaViz, the sister company of Maya Design. (We share office space, though we work on different things).
    • The Philips Pronto is the most popular of the fully programmable universal remote. You can control thousands of devices with the Pronto, including X10 modules to control lamps, fans, and other appliances

      Does it handles remotes with two alternating code sets? I recently replaced a DVD player and TV that busted within weeks of eachother, and when I programmed the universal remote for the replacements I found that if I hit the same button twice in a row (or hit one button followed by certain others), the second button would be ignored.

      After a little experimentation I discovered that the devices had two sets of codes (call them A and B). When the remote is using the A set, and you hit a button, it sends the code from the A set, then switches itself to the B set. When you hit the button from the B set, and hit a button, it switches itselft to the A set. The devices will not recognise two consecutive codes from the same code set.

      The devices were from different manufacturers too, so I'm guessing this is something that is becoming relatively common.

  • I see, people don't remember this [denver.co.us] and this [denver.co.us] (or this [denver.co.us] if you use MSIE or Lynx, or PDA-based browser)?

    Second camera is gone for now (until I'll place it in another room) but both camera and controls are working perfectly after years of being in use, and relocation from California to Colorado.

    I use this a lot from a regular computer, or PDA, with a web browser and all kinds of wireless setups, including 802.11b, and this thing was up and running for more than four years.

  • Slow news day, CNN?

    These guys design these things, but they never look at the facts. For the most part, we are a nation of people whose VCRs (unless they can set themselves) are blinking "12:00," and who are usually shocked to learn that the right mouse button doesn't do the same stuff as the left button.

    Any remote powerful enough to control everything in the house will be expensive, and so complex that the people in the target demographic will never learn how to operate all but the most basic of functions. Did they ever write down the business plan? I doubt it, because it's something like this:

    1) Market expensive, complex device to cheap, dumb/lazy users.
    2) ???
    3) Profit!

    The people who want to automate their homes are already doing it, and they're rolling their own solutions by using a bunch of low-cost components together in a clever way because they enjoy the tinkering it takes to achieve the end result. They're not just going to buy some pricey gewgaw to do it for them-- where's the fun in that?

    As for me, I've had a Mac running my house via X-10 with great success for years. In addition to remotes, I can send commands via IM, and I've got a good bit done on a web interface. I'm always adding to and improving my system, and it works wonderfully.

    Leave the home automation stuff to the DIY geeks, and the filthy rich who can afford to pay someone else to customize a system for their homes. One-size-fits-all home automation solutions will never cut it, especially when they cost a few hundred bucks like this one does.

    ~Philly
  • The original poster may have been joking, but leave it to the Japanese to come up with such a thing. Toto [toto.co.jp] makes many fancy toilets [toto.co.jp], some with remote control. But for the do-it-yourselfer, they make a retrofit remote control add-on [toto.co.jp].
  • *God looks for his Universal Remote Control*
    "Now where in the hell did I put that damn thing... I've got a Nova to light off at three!"

    *A tech from Maya Designs fiddles with Universal Remote's features, sucking Earth into a black hole.*

    "Sigh. I'm gonna have to start all over again now. In the Beginning..."
  • by XNormal (8617) on Sunday September 01, 2002 @02:32AM (#4179625) Homepage
    A remote control that sends a narrow beam to a long distance with the "turn off" codes of most popular TV models. If it has good sights and a narrow beam I bet it could do it from a distance of well over 100 meters.
  • Does the warranty expire on December 21, 2012?
  • Crestron panels (Score:3, Informative)

    by myov (177946) on Sunday September 01, 2002 @02:39AM (#4179644)
    Have they considered using Crestron [crestron.com] panels to control everything?
  • by firippu (593681) on Sunday September 01, 2002 @02:42AM (#4179649)
    It is interesting the connotation behind the words "remote control." Symbolic of how we humans are in an ever-increasing battle to control the environment around us. So along comes the 'universal remote' which allows the greediest of control freaks to covet the power in one isolated unit. And I thought it was bad when my stepfater refused to release his grip from the TV remote... just imagine the power struggles taking place in the average houselhold when the remote controls not only the appliances, but lighting, temperature controls, etc... That thing better have a hidden book of matches tucked within its injection-molded body... just imagine during a power loss and the remote appears to be working, but the damn lights just aren't responding!!!
  • "Now I wonder if I could remotely flush my toliet?"

    This is as far as technology has taken us? Bidding Bon Voyage to a turd using a remote? You're making me happy that my dog and I use the same tree to take a whizz.
  • I'd like to have a remote control that would control my legs and arms. Hell, why not the whole body? Sometimes, I'm just too damned lazy to get up and this would really help. Just press a button, and *boom*, you are standing in front of the fridge ready to get another beer.
  • One remote to rule them all, One remote to find them,
    One remote to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

    Hell, I'd be satisfied with the one remote to find 'em.
  • Get a remote with Jp1 [yahoo.com] and also get X10 [smarthome.com] stuff and you can control almost anything from a single remote, and you can program the remote (you get to make your own serial cable to interface to your computer) so any button does excatly what you want.

    I've got a radio shack remote that transmits RF to an IR transmitting base, so I can turn lights off from the back yard if I wanna see stars better, or kill the WIGGLES on the TV after my daughter has stopped watching them.

    M@
  • Sounds great, except you might lose it, or leave it in another room or something. Maybe you could have several of these scattered throughout the house. In fact, they could be specialized for the rooms they're in. That way, there's always just the right control wherever you need to use it. Actually, let's go one step further: have one for each device, tailor-made to control that particular device! And it could be attached to the device so you never lose it, and so it moves wherever the device moves!

    Oh, wait...


  • "Now I wonder if I could remotely flush my toliet?" "

    I always secretly suspected timothy was really the biscuit from Ally McBeal. Now we have our proof!
  • Now I wonder if I could remotely flush my toliet?

    We had my wife's eight year old nephew sleep over on Friday and Saturday nights. The heck with remote flushing - I'd like a toilet that automatically puts down the freakin' lid!

  • This doesn't sound like anything new. Any CCF format device such as a Pronto featured at RemoteCentral [remotecentral.com] can handle your A/V equipment. There is software [pdawin.com] and hardware [laser.com] for controlling this on an iPaq. Using a BX24-AHT [laser.com] which is currently compatible with the Misterhouse [misterhouse.net] home automation system, you will soon be able to control your lights and other X10 [x10.com] modules from such CCF devices by simply adding a $7 IR receiver. Add some IR repeaters around the house and you can control it all from anywhere in the house. Use something like a wireless Aquapad to access the home network and the Misterhouse web interface to control it all. What "Future"? The tech is already here. Just use it.
  • Dare I mention that this is nothing new nor original? MisterHouse [sourceforge.net] have much better ideas: the guys at misterhouse made some all-in-one home control centers, and the system even has text-to-speech "Trekkie-style," and the system even has GPS receivers on the vehicles with some kind of ARPS data relay to give telemetry. There's also some kind of WAP bridge so that you can control house stuff from a cell phone. In short, MisterHouse [sourceforge.net] is light-years beyond a remote control. And best of all... it's GPL'd ... and it knows Kung-Fu! Btw, it would really suck if someone hacked your house. ... Water shooting out of the drains, the toaster burning things and the lights going on and off.
  • A little USB connection on the side would enable you to connect it to a computer. Select the equipment you have and it does a CDDB-like lookup (RCDB?) and configures your remote for you. If you have to program it by learning, ie zapping your current remote at it and telling your new remote what IR code that corresponds to, then you can upload that to RCDB for all to share. Being able to drag and drop buttons to design your own GUI would be a nice extra.

    Phillip.

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