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AirRemote for iPhone: ‘Greatest Little TV Remote’

Complete package including iPod Touch would retail for about $500.

The iPhone has become an increasingly popular interface for home-control systems such as home automation (HAI, Savant), multiroom audio (SpeakerCraft), media servers (Sooloos), and so much more.

But there hasn't been a low-cost solution for using the iPhone (or iPod Touch) as an ordinary universal remote control … until now.

London-based integrator Steve Moore has created AirRemote, "the greatest little TV remote you've ever used," he says, "and way cheaper than most of the things in [CE Pro's] Remote Control round-up."

Along with the AirRemote application for iPhone, the heart of the system is a low-cost communications box from Global Caché, which takes IP commands from the iPhone and converts them to infrared, serial or contact-closure for controlling everything from a home theater system to lighting controls to motorized blinds.

"The beauty of the iPod Touch or iPhone versus other tablets is that it has bullet-proof WiFi, doesn't need to wait for Windows to boot up, and can be held in a hand," says Moore. "And they sell loads of them so they cost almost nothing."

The AirRemote application is expected to retail for about $99 (from the iTunes Application store after July 11).

Take that, and an iPod Touch ($299) and the Global Caché box (about $100 - Correction, the least expensive Global Caché adapter, the GC-100-6 retails for about $120-$150.) "and you are still WAY less than the cost of a Pronto Pro, for example, without the need for a a programmer camped out on your living room floor for days trying to make it work," Moore says.

AirRemote is programmed easily via menus on the iPhone handset, Moore explains.

And you should trust the guy when he says something like that. Moore has run one of the most reputable home systems integration firms in Europe.

"We get custom integration," he says.

iPhone Control of AMX, Crestron, More

In addition to the basic AirRemote control solution, the application also enables control of AMX or Crestron automation system, allowing users to operate lights, security, audio/video, thermostats and virtually any other electronic system connected to an AMX or Crestron system.

AirRemote also supports the Kaleidescape media server "with all the album/cover art on the iPhone, and it links to the Web to bring you more artist/actor/director information," Moore says.

Support for more devices is on the way.

Expect more interesting stuff from Steve Moore, who brought us the Sonos-powered wireless "Free Speakers" last year.

The Apple Trend in the CE Channel

The home technology industry is starting to take Apple more seriously. Here are just a few examples:

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Universal Remotes · Universal Remote · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

22 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Casey  on  06/13  at  04:03 PM

Please please let it use the blue tooth functionality to control the ps3 as well!

Posted by Peter  on  06/16  at  08:28 AM

Well, despite the much lower cost than the aforementioned Pronto, there’s no way I can see myself spending $200 on a remote control system.
I guess I’m not the target audience.

Posted by Michael  on  06/17  at  05:52 AM

200$... haha. good joke.

think someone will code this for free.

Posted by Greg  on  06/17  at  11:49 AM

If it works the way it is described (unfortunately most products don’t)then Crestron should be more scared than Bob Gartland, at least AVAD can distribute some of the Apple add-ons, but Crestron is going to be hard pressed to sell small touchpanels and even hardbutton keypads because they will be much more expensive than an iTouch.

Posted by jbrown  on  06/23  at  05:08 PM

First off, anyone who takes two days to program a Pronto Pro has no clue what they’re doing and should probably just leave the house before they screw something up.

OK, on to the product.

It won’t work the way it says, they never do. It may work, but it is not as simple as it claims. Macros? RS-232 commands? Network configurations? Not in your typical Joe Sixpack’s field of expertise. And even if the average person could muddle through it, Crestron has nothing to worry about. People who would use this would never buy a Crestron system in the first place. It’s a different market.

And just like any buttonless touchscreen remote, there is no tactile feedback to let you know where your thumb is on the remote. So even though you can hold it in one hand, you will still need two hands to use it and you will have to look at the remote instead of the TV while you channel surf.

And maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t this website callde “CE Pro”? As in “Consumer Electronics Professional”? We are businesses, leave things like this to the DIY-er who wants to kludge a few different things together to save a few bucks. Do we make money on an iPhone or iPod touch? Nope. Do we make money on apps from the Apple Store? Nope. Do we make money selling a $120 Global Cahe piece? Not enough for lunch much less rent.

Oh yeah, what happens when you get a phone call and your wife wants to change the channel? I have a feeling the folks at Crestron aren’t exactly nervous.

Posted by steve  on  06/24  at  08:30 AM

this is not just for the iphone, but the touch as well which might very well find a place as a house controller (thing wifi, streaming video from sec cameras, light controller, etc). as to who will program,  there are a lot of open source coders out there that have stepped up to the plate when it comes to writing apps for new platforms. will it replace the established, higher end remotes? no, probably not. but the iphone/touch will be another option for the a/v enthusiasts.

in regards to this site being CE Pro (for professional installers), yes, but aren’t you interested in what these “DIYers” are up to? you should be.

Posted by jbrown  on  06/24  at  08:47 AM

So do you use the iPod Touch to control your system from the docking station? Or do you just not listen to your iPod any more since you need it to control everything?

I am very interested in what the DIYers are doing and the products being offered to them. But I check up on that on RemoteCentral, AVSForum, TWICE, etc. I expect CE Pro to concentrate more on Custom Elentronics, though lately it seems to be including a lot of Consumer Electronics as well.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/24  at  08:54 AM

Mr. Brown…I see this app as a very pro-friendly solution. Who wouldn’t want to control their (professionally installed) Crestron system with an iPhone?

Posted by steve  on  06/24  at  09:01 AM

i don’t do either, since i don’t have an iphone or touch. “if” i were to go with a setup like this, i suspect i would have a dedicated touch lying around that i could use to the various functions. at 8GB i doubt i would be using to listen to music and i probably wouldn’t want to take it with me (in the car, etc). i do have an ipod so that would probably continue to serve in that role.

i hear you when you say this product (if it even comes to fruition) is not for everyone, or even a small niche, but it is news that this device is creeping into the home control arena.

whether or not CE Pro is covering the news you deem worthwhile is completely up to you. i’m ok with them casting a wider net and allowing me to pick. besides, i suspect some customers will be asking about these options and i would like to be on top of it. “keep your enemies close” as they say.

Posted by joe  on  06/29  at  01:04 PM

I like this! It’s pretty much exactly what I’m looking for with my new AV setup. No I don’t want to drop the $$ or a crestron system…that would likely exceed the cost of my setup as it is

A couple questions:
Will there be customizable layouts/skins?

Does this support macro events? as in a “Watch DVD” button powers everything needed, switches to needed inputs and brings up dvd player-centric controls

I’m a capable DIY’er and would jump on this, especially if both of my questions are answered with a “YES”

the system…4x B&W;601s3, 1x LCR60, Marantz SR5300 and 2x Paradigm PDR-12

Posted by Steve Moore  on  06/30  at  09:06 AM

I’m one of the people who have developed this product, so please bear that in mind.

Anyway, to address two of the points raised above:

- I agree that “buttonless screens” can be a pain in the ass, particularly when navigating EPG-type information on the main display. We use the flick/swipe gesture technology in the iPod/iPhone for stuff like volume, channel up etc. This is very easy, especially when driving TiVo or Kaleidescape for example. You DO NOT need to look at the remote. There are a couple of videos on YouTube showing this in action.

- CI dealers will be able to customise the launch screen and evince various simple macros. You can’t change the look of the device screens themselves however, as we have worked with Apple and others to make these as clean and reliably consistent as possible. Of course if you use the unit with AMX or Crestron you can define what happens with each button press or gesture, and deal with feedback as you wish.

Hope this helps

Posted by jbrown  on  06/30  at  09:57 AM

Steve, you said “Of course if you use the unit with AMX or Crestron you can define what happens with each button press or gesture, and deal with feedback as you wish.”

In the videos I saw, there is only one state for each button (no separate “depressed” state). If the screens are not customizable, how can we provide feedback for something like a latched “mute” button or a source select that is highlighted to show which source is already active? Or better yet, what about meta data from XM stations or Kaleidescape?

Also, why can’t British people pronounce CEDIA?

Posted by steve Moore  on  06/30  at  10:43 AM

can’t help with the second question - seems easy enough to me ...

anyway, we have a depressed and normal state
many devices have “latched” states in your terms, or the icon changes to reflect status (eg play becomes pause ..._
all meta data from, for example, Kaleidescape is there, and hooks out to IMDB
it’s good - don’t worry - I’ve been installing this sort of system since 1987

Posted by Steve  on  07/02  at  11:00 AM

TV and home theater remotes are family items.
Cell phones are personal items.

When I’m not home, what does my wife use to change channels?

Posted by paul rabs  on  07/02  at  12:58 PM

an iTouch - she doesn’t need a phone to do this

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