Introducing UiRemote!

Hi there, today, we bring good news to “couch potatoes” everywhere who are lucky enough to own an iPhone. If you don’t already own an iPhone, well, get one ; ). It just got a bit cooler. ( Note: This project is in final prototype stage, not available yet, but soon. ) Please sign up your email at our Mailing List to be notified when it becomes ready. : )

We, a group of students at the University of Toronto, have completed something that could potentially replace all the remotes you have scattered around the house. It’s called the UiRemote (Universal Infrared Remote), for iPhone only at the moment.

With the help of this small accessory, you will be able to use your iPhone to control your TV, DVD, Cable box, Projectors, Digital Photo Frames, AC, Fans, & Backyard evil robots, whereever you go. Not only does it send out the remote control signals, you can easily teach it to learn any button on any standard Remote, or even a sequence of button clicks as a macro.

Take note, this is not some bulky infrared remote boxes that you have to connect using Wifi, and cannot be moved around. This standalone accessory, in its final prototype form, is only the size of a finger tip, and require nothing but your iPhone to control devices and learn new remote commands. We are going to make it even smaller after further adjustments. You can conveniently slip it into your pocket and take it to your friends/bars/meetings/work/etc. and impress them with this new thing you can do with your iPhone.

Of course, the concept of a universal remote is nothing new, and you can get a pretty good one from Logitech, but we just thought having the ability to control any household appliance will make iPhone more… complete, shall we say. After all, iPhone already have all the hardware necessary to become a fancy touchscreen remote, all we have to do is to develop the Infrared Module and write the software for it.

Please see a video demonstration below for what we have so far. This project is still in final prototype stage. We are busy making many improvements to the User Interface and are aiming to release the actual Infrared Module and the Application in the next month or two. Please comment generously and let us know your feedbacks.

Stay tuned! And happy new year.

Screenshots:

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73 Comments »

  1. crockard said

    Cool! Very interesting!
    In your aim, how could cost the IR module for iPhone ?

    Cheers, crockard

  2. Joel said

    I have been using a Philips Pronto for years. Hopefully you know about the Pronto. The one problem I see with your unit is you are not allowing me to create custom screens. I don’t see your remote flying unless you allow us to generate our own screens and buttons (like the Pronto does). If you add this feature to your sw, I’ll buy one tomorrow…

  3. Jeff said

    Great. Keep in mind for the ir module to still be used with the cases people use. No one is going to want to remove there case every time to just use remote. iPod Touch users will want to so your app should rotate screen for touch (headset on bottom). Customization of buttons would be nice. We work with cctv equip that has ir control and would be nice to tweek a display for like cam 1, cam 2 etc…. Real cool idea. cant wait for launch

  4. Ken H. said

    If this can control a PS3 (via bluetooth) and the rest of my HT equipment, I’ll buy it ASAP!

  5. rob said

    I am seconding Ken H – I would love to have bluetooth remote worked into this as well. I can always spend an extra $20 for an i/r receiver for the PS3, but who wants all sorts of things plugged in?

    Customizable screens, Bluetooth remote for PS3 and codes for equipment (so I dont have to hand program each button!) will have me lined up at your door with money in hand.

    Rock on, bros… you have an AWESOME product there!

  6. Anonymous said

    really cool. keep up the good work. i look forward to seeing this deployed soon

  7. Phil said

    This is awsome! I want one.

    As people have already said, you should make sure to make the IR module compatible with the iPod touch and with iPhone/IPod touch cases. Also, button and screen customization would be really important to me.

    Great job.

  8. ganjagadget said

    Have you though of trying to incorporate one of these tiny RF modules:

    http://www.summitsource.com/nghp-418kit-rf-remote-control-extender-kit-418-mhz-wireless-converter-for-uhf-audio-video-tv-signal-converter-sb7aaa-lrrx-component-eye-emitter-ultimate-digital-wireless-rf-receiver-transmitter-part-418kit-p-7700.html

  9. Jason said

    I have been hoping someone would put this product out. Will you charge for the software and let the hardware be a DIY with instructions, or will you be selling the hardware and the software (which would have to be separately?)

    Great idea, good luck.

  10. Kevin said

    For gods sake can the PS3 people stop with trying to make the tail wag the dog? Stop spamming every last remote control atricle in the world with the same pathetic whining.

    Bluetooth is utterly and completely different from everything else, and is a bad choice for remote controls anyway. Sony screwed the pooch to save the cost of an IR receiver, and Sony should fix it. Not everybody else.

  11. Dipan said

    This is awesome. I’ve been looking for an iPhone App just like this. Great work. Is the interface going to be customizable and theme-able? What about multiple layouts for different remotes.

  12. Scott said

    This is cool. have you guys considered dual IR emitters. I may have the terminology wrong but I believe that some remotes (including windows media center remotes) send out 2 commands at a time which complicates what you are trying to do.

    This is really cool regardless though.

  13. Scott said

    Great work guys! I’ve been waiting for something like this. If you need to find a low cost provider for the hardware, drop me a line as I live in China and work in manufacturing. I can’t wait to replace all of my unreadable chinese remotes for a/c, heat, tv…

    Great job.

  14. Sheng said

    Believe what Scott was trying to ask is whether you’re planning on incorporating macro support,… E.g. remotes like the Logitech Harmony and Master etc. allow for a single button press to turn on your TV, audio receiver, and cable box. The remote would then realize that when you hit channel up, it should control the cable box but when you hit volume up, it should control the amp.

  15. ClassicUser said

    LOVE the concept, but believe a few things will make or break the product:

    1. Ease of utilizing the IR blaster. As already indicated, it should be easy to attach and detach, even from an iPhone within a case. Keep the connector to the size of a headphone jack (with appropriate clearance from the device), and you should be fine.

    2. Interface design & customizability. I love the idea of an extended set of commands which could be issued – but hate the “row after row of almost-identical buttons” UI which we see in the screenshots. Take a page from the design approaches of other remotes which allow customization of not just assignments, but the actual button layout (e.g. Novii Remote http://www.novii.tv/).

    3. Macros. I figured this should be obvious, but had to mention it.

    ** Aside: Will this work with an iPod touch, as well? If so, an “upside-down” view of the screen – since the headphone jack is on the bottom – would be mandatory.

    Considering 2 & 3, perhaps a desktop (or online?) tool to allow for designing the layout, then syncing it to the app, would be useful. While I can’t stand the Harmony software, their “don’t try to cram an interface onto the device itself” methodology is to be commended.

    I really do wish you all the best with this, and believe I might be first in line to buy it, when available.

  16. Iam Nemo said

    Nice idea with a future provided that:

    1) you keep the software part open so that people can add new functions;

    2) it is possible to define our own buttons, multi-screen layouts, macros, etc.;

    3) compatibility with the hundreds of existing Philips Pronto layouts, definition files, database of codes and scripts would be fantastic! See http://www.pronto.philips.com/ and http://www.remotecentral.com/ ;

    4) at one point a computer-based (java) editing program (similar to ProntoEdit) is offered;

    5) you redesign the IR emitter so that it does not protrude as much and is compatible with the iPod Touch as well.

    6) a wi-fi to IR module would also be a nice addition.

    Nice work. Keep it up!

  17. In Chicago said

    love the idea. Keep going!

    Take note of the above – layout software and customization. Download Pronto Edit from Philips and play with it. It’s not the greatest, but flexible as can be.

    Second, even if not layout – accept IR codes as HEX – see remotecentral.com download section. The key to good remote programming is the discrete code. Without it – don’t start.

    Third – your next product, a wifi receiver with an IR blaster on a wire. No dingle attached to iphone, just a box in the AV cabinet with IR emitters and all communication from software to AV gear via WIFI or bluetooth.

    Cheers.

  18. Iam Nemo said

    In Chicago above is right on:

    Discrete codes are a must; you need to know if the device is in the ON or OFF state or at least force it to a known state. Ever tried to explain by phone to your SO how to control the AV gear after he/she has pushed the wrong button? ;-)

    Wifi receiver(s) with (multiple) IR blaster(s) each and inside AV cabinet would be the ultimate.

  19. I can’t wait for this to be released, will it be compatible with the iPod Touch first/second generation?

  20. Michael said

    You should add pages for multiple devices and add a customizable toolbar/tab bar to move icons around. Great job. Look forward to using your app.

  21. GP1890 said

    I WAS GOING TO BUY THE IR TRANS MODUL FOR $179,00 EUR BUT IN THAT CASE I WILL HOLD OFF AND BUY THIS UI REMOTE CANT WAIT NICE GOOD JOB THAT GUY IS GOING TO MAKE$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  22. Alex said

    Great. I would buy this in a flash. I always have my Harmony 1000 remote and my iphone next to me when I watch TV, having only one thing would be great.

    If can make the screens fully customisable maybe with an AP on the PC and down load it to the iphone that would be very smart.

  23. Rani said

    Best news ever!!! I just was thinking buy universal remote device. Now i wait this.

  24. Dylan said

    You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting on this.
    I remember something way back that was similar to this for iPod and some old smartphone.
    The way it worked was that it recorded the infrared signal when you pressed it on your controller and converted it into an audio file that you could simply play back to get the same effect as pressing your remote, with an infrared module that plugged into the headphone jack of course.
    Will this be something along the lines of this?

  25. CaLciD said

    Wow..!!! Great product!!!!
    I have been waiting for this for a long time…
    I though of buying the Harmony but kind of set back by the seems to be complicated ways to program the remote and its price….

    PS3 compatible is highly welcome…i know bluetooth sucks…but still there are people out there have a PS3 and don’t like to buy an additional remote…
    it’s all about broadening the consumer base and incentive…
    plus….does it work with macbook/mac computers as a remote control as well?
    If you can make a IR product like this with a reasonable price (~40-50)…I will buy it in a heart beat and you just earn yourself a very likely best-selling product among iPhone accessories!!

  26. noname said

    I love it, great product. I would just love if the plug would be smaller, so i could keep it in the iphone stadily. If it is impossible, i got another idea – made it also a pen for iphone – then this size is not a problem, and it would have one sometimes very desirable feature more

  27. abdou said

    a Pretty good idea, But i wonder if you could release the module device scheme as opensource project, so everyone can introduce more functinality.

    thanks.

  28. benmully said

    Give it Phillips Pronto like functionality and you got my order!

  29. TimF said

    Great idea, I would love to use this for my iPod touch, I’m glad an earlier poster mentioned the headphone jack on the bottom. Is it feasible for the display to be upside down on the iPod touch so that the IR module can be used? A good feature also would be a “lock” so that the screen does not rotate to landscape if you do not want it.

  30. champ22 said

    love the product and the work you guys have done. keep us posted when the lease happens or if your need some beta testers *wink wink*. i would love to help.

  31. AverageGenious said

    I’m not sure how I feel about this, on one hand is awesome, but I dont want to have the dongle plugged in at all times, so the only option is to leave the dongle nearby and plug it in when I want to change channels (not very convenient)

    I think the bluetooth option is far better, let people deal w/ the BT -> IR conversion themselves if needed but its about time devices stop using a legacy protocol and change to BT anyways.

  32. Anonamouse said

    Is the IR dongle compatible with the original iPhone? In the demonstration it shows a 3g which does not have the recessed headphone jack like the original iPhone does.

  33. Eric said

    Cool! If the price if good, I’m buying.

    One suggestion: Make the IR super super small. I don’t want to put pressure on my jack. Since I have two kids you can imagine the worst!

    Keep me posted.
    Eric, Montreal

  34. Congratulations on this achievement! IR Control has been on my wishlist for the iPhone, and your solution is ingenious to say the least. In case you haven’t heard about it, I recommend checking out http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin/codes/ for a database of IR codes for many different IR-equipped devices. Way back in my college days, I loved using Nevo on my iPaq Pocket PC to control all of the TVs at my school and area restaurants; it always drove my friends crazy when the TV would mysteriously turn on/off during movies.

    I’ll be one of the first people in line to purchase this when it’s available, so keep up the excellent work. I definitely recommend checking out Nevo’s UI for inspiration; it’s the most intuitive IR control app I’ve ever used. I’m sure you can use the features of the iPhone to take the concept to a new level.

    Feel free to tweet me if I can help you in any way.

  35. blakepro said

    Awesome idea guys.

    I also would love it if you could some how work in the ability to pair up to a PS3 with the iphones bluetooth abilites. I dont know if its even possible though.

    You should set up a mailing list so people can be notified when this is ready to sell..

  36. CLT Eats said

    Like others have mentioned, it’d be awesome if the interface were fully customizable. Personally I’d love it if it were possible to customize it via HTML or something similarly easy. A grassroots movement of designs would spring up quickly I’d bet and I’d be one of the first contributors.

  37. John Z said

    love this – I would like to learn more about your plans. Can you contact me?

    Thx.

    John

  38. Aiden S said

    Hello, I like this a lot, I’m in the UK. Once you have got all this finished I would love to have one for myself. The problem with being in the UK is with my bank. I can only make international purchases if the price is in pounds sterling. I do know that I can buy things from other countries with eBay though. Will you be selling them on eBay? If not would you be willing to make an exception, or tell me how to make the transmitter myself?
    Thank you, Aiden

  39. matt said

    will this work with the original iPhone that has a recessed head phone jack?

  40. Jez said

    Unfortunately I don’t have an iPhone, but at least there will be plenty of harmony remotes on eBay! ;-)
    Great idea

  41. Tony Buser said

    I’d pay good money for this. Please make a mailing list or something so I can be notified when it’s available!

    I’d also have fun controlling ir robots like my i-Sobot (http://www.isobotrobot.com) with it. The remote for the i-Sobot is horrible. :)

  42. Martin said

    I’ve been waiting for this project : http://features.engadget.com/2004/07/27/how-to-turn-your-ipod-in-to-a-universal-infrared-remote-control/ to come up on IPhone so long… And now I see the light. Congratulations on converting IR signals to audio and recording!

  43. roxboxxx said

    Gentleman,

    Fine work! I have extensive experience programing remotes including philips and URC remotes like the MX-3000. The most critical component of a proper touch screen remote (besides its ability to work) is the ability to allow for customized screens. There are 2 ways to go about this:

    1. Fixed Template Driven – you provide 5 – 10 templates for devices and allow each button to be learned. All buttons and backgrounds are of a fixed graphic design and layout.

    2. Open Template – A blank template is provided where by a user can change the background image, the image for each button and the number of buttons per screen.

    The last URC I programed had a tree like this:

    HOME:
    Watch
    Control
    Room

    WATCH
    -> Cable TV
    -> DVD
    -> BluRay
    -> XBMC

    CONTROL
    -> Projector
    -> Reciever
    -> Xbox 360
    -> XBMC

    ROOM
    -> Lights
    -> Heating
    -> Cooling

    Each screen had a home key to take you back to the home screen.

    Most of the universal remotes have gone the way of “Watch something, Play something, etc.” Some folks like this but you always need a way of controlling a device directly (like to change a surround sound mode), hence my typical config tree.

    I can only hope that the later of the 2 methods is where you are going with the project.

    Happy to share my experience with the team if needed.

  44. Anthony said

    This is one of the reasons I didn’t want to give up my Treo (Novii Remote) I love that app and use it all the time at sports bars, will uiremote work with the iPod Touch?

  45. [...] UiRemote: The Universal Infrared Remote for iPhone: With the help of this small accessory, you will be able to use your iPhone to control your TV, DVD, Cable box, Projectors, Digital Photo Frames, AC, Fans, & Backyard evil robots, whereever you go. Not only does it send out the remote control signals, you can easily teach it to learn any button on any standard Remote, or even a sequence of button clicks as a macro. (This looks nice — hopefully they make it compatible with the iPod Touch as well!) [...]

  46. benmully said

    Is it possible to make the IR less pointy? Possibly make a flush version along the top of the iPhone rather than pointing straight out?

  47. Marcus said

    You should also take a look at irtrans. They offer a lan controlled infrared emitter. Maybe your app can have an option to use that

  48. Rainer said

    Great, can’t wait to get it.
    Want to replace my Bang Olufsen remote control including LIGHT control.
    But don’t worry if you don’t support this at the moment. I will fake an other button.
    Speed of getting product to the market is more important than a perfect UI of the first release. You still could have someone else put the perfect UI to the App Store and share the revenues.

    Question: if I want to make a telephone call do I need to unplug your hardware each time?

    Good luck for your product. Where can I put the order?

  49. Dapier said

    Fabulous project i’m gonna buy this famous iphone…
    A question about macro : does the “delay” feature will be integrated into macro function ?
    Thx.
    Dap

  50. Nicholas said

    its a pretty cool idea, it will really need the ability to make screens, but I know that is software based, and as far as the device is concerned I would like to try it as soon as it becomes available , like most people.

  51. John said

    Will you consider exposing an api so that iphone developers can expand on the work you’ve done?

  52. champ22 said

    any update on the release date guys or news in general ?

  53. LiquidIce said

    Vaporware?

  54. bob said

    My guess: They cant get it to work with anything other than Sony gear – the simplest form of IR codes.

  55. Oscar said

    Any timeplan? When can we order? ETA!!! haha, thx for a great project!

  56. Jim said

    When is this product going to be available?

  57. Ed Henkel said

    This seems like an awesome product, definatley will purchase when it hits the market. Something else to think about, I know this is for IR, but it would be cool if you guys could come up with a program for garage doors also. I know the Iphone 3g is capable of producing high enough frequencies, maybe a matter of designing an antenna or perhaps the OE phone is capable of a 20′ range perhaps? I live in an apartment complex in a town house and I’m constantly trying to find the dang little gate opener and garage door opener. Would be cool to press a button on my phone and the gate open.

    -Ed

  58. Ted T. said

    If this wasn’t vaporware, there would have been an update since February. Sad, very sad. Total waste of NY Times publicity.

  59. Josh the Happy said

    Yeah, total letdown, been watching this site since it first speared, and now that I have an iPhone, where the fudge is it?

  60. Josh the Happy said

    Haha I mispelled apeared as speared.

  61. agustin bartolome said

    I would love to invest on your peoject or to buy the project.

    Please contact me at any moment

    Thanks

    Agustin

  62. Ryan L said

    anxious anxious anxious!!! GET IT OUT THERE GUYS! =]=]=]=]=]

  63. Vaporware said

    we’ll never see it… a year later and not even a WORD.

    how rude.

    just go get redeye.

  64. NO redeye said

    http://Www.l5remote.com

    Apparently logitech bought these kids out. Or so I read. We won’t be hearing from them. Still could have closed the blog or gave a cancelation notice or something.

    Kinda prickish if you ask me.

    Go buy the l5. Or build it yourself. I saw I link up there ^^

  65. Hi Guys,
    Please let me know when this product is available, it looks ideal for what I need.
    I run a company in Australia specialising in controlling blinds and screens.
    I am looking for a stand alone iPhone app to control them.
    I am very interested in your product and would be interested in bringing it to Australia.
    I already have customers asking for such an app and think it would sell very well here.
    Great work!
    Mark Belcher
    Director
    Techmark Australia PTY LTD

  66. Steve said

    ONE question. Will the hardware be usable when the iPhone is in an Otter Box?

  67. Anonymous said

    What r u waiting for?

  68. Henry Aldridge said

    The IRDroid looked very tempting until I downloaded the software and realized that this isn’t going to work with only 6 keys and no numbers for channel selection.
    I hope that you will be introducing your Droid model soon. Please keep me posted.
    Thanks,
    Henry

  69. webpage said

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    I’d without a doubt donate to this excellent blog!
    I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed
    to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this
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  70. I like it whenever people come together and share opinions.
    Great site, keep it up!

  71. While the iPhone and iPod touch may be wonderful devices for performing any number of tricks, they’re not particularly good universal IR remote controls when coupled with infrared dongles or cases. And they aren’t for a variety of reasons.

  72. Raghav said

    HOW COULD THIS BE? HOW COULD THE IR LED CURCUIT BE ATTATCHED TO A HEADPHONE JACK OF THE IPHONE??? DOES IT WORK ON ANDROID?

    is it like this: a sound wave is played as a command from the keypad or touch screen then the electricity or sound is sent to the ir circuit then the led emits the light as IR.

    how can sound ever CONTAIN ir radiation HOW WOULD YOU DO THAT throught the headphone jack?

  73. Introducing UiRemote! Adrian ? OK $10

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