Universal Remotes

Om Malik has a great post today on the future of remote controls and their role in our smart homes. I like the idea of a knowledgeable device — one that can be easily configure itself based on what you have, across a variety of connection options (wifi, ir and bluetooth) and can of course is smart enough to go beyond the basic scene management of today’s higher end pieces.

You probably know about Crestron and AMX which are used in high end custom installations for home theaters and conference rooms as well as homes with advanced Lutron lighting scenes and room based music and video.

Om points to the Harmony Remote, whose parent Intrigue was just acquired by Logitech . I’ve been admiring the Harmony system as a possible contender to replace my aging Philips Pronto. The nice thing about the Harmony as Om points out is that it can be easily programmed through USB and your computer. You download the devices you have into the remote and it can take care of the work from there. Want to watch a movie, press movie and the TV changes to Video, your electroncs shift inputs and the DVD player starts up as the lights dim. This is also possible with the AMX and Crestron systems, but not without an expert to program them for you.

Once we have a system that can discover what you have at home, connect itself to the net via your home network and download the device options and auto-configure itself for some standard scenes we’ll be really happening.

I think this is a ways off for many reasons. First, we are still waiting on a standard connect option for AV equipment. HDMI vs DVI… once things settle on how they are connected perhaps we’ll be able to get these devices to communicate who they are to our networks. Plug and Play Home Theater is a critical step to achieve in the development of smarter, yet simpler homes that can all be maintained and controlled with the Smart Remote we all crave.

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