We love our gadgets. And increasingly, our "smart" home is filled with "smart" gadgets. In addition to the TV and stereo, we now have a smart thermostat, wirelessly controlled lights, room fans, door locks, webcams, and more. Here's a thought: What if you could control all of those devices from a single remote control?
That's the idea behind Sevenhugs SmartRemote. This gadget looks like it stepped out of a sci-fi movie. It has elegant styling that's half Apple-inspired and half prop from "Elysium." The long, slender remote with curved edges is covered with a jet-black color touchscreen. So far, so good. But the real magic? It automatically configures itself into the appropriate remote for whatever you point it at.
Indeed, the promotional video makes it look like magic. Point it at lights, and you can turn the lights on or off. Point it at the TV, and suddenly you can change channels. Point it at your Nest to adjust the temperature.
And it gets better: Point it at the door to order an Uber, or point it at your window to see the weather.
Keep devices clustered close together—like the cable box, DVD player, and TV? Smart Remote lets you select which one you want to control via a selection carousel that automatically appears at the top of the remote.
There's a lot of tech behind making all this work. The remote connects to your devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared, and it knows where it's pointed thanks to motion sensors in the device, combined with a trio of sensors you mount on walls around the room.
Will SmartRemote work with your stuff? That's always the sticky part of any "universal" remote, but Sevenhugs claims compatibility with 25,000 devices. The FAQ section of the Kickstarter page lists all the compatible brands, divided into categories like speakers, thermostats, blinds, satellite and cable boxes, and more. But even a cursory look at the page shows some obvious holes: It doesn't appear to work with TIVO boxes, for example.
Another point of concern: As cool as SmartRemote looks, you might wisely ask, "but doesn't my smartphone already do this?" And it's true: If you're sufficiently tech-y, you might already have apps to control virtually everything in your house from TV to lights to thermostat all from your phone, effectively rendering it a universal remote. But the big difference: this remote reconfigures itself by pointing. No need to go hunting for the right app. Is that worth about $200? Only you can decide.
All that said, this is a very impressive looking project. It's due to ship to backers in the summer of 2017.
Campaign: Sevenhugs Smart Remote
Pledges start at: $199
Campaign ends: 12/15/2016