Help and advice

Are remote controls becoming obsolete?

Remote controls have been a firm fixture in our homes for many decades now, but the march of technology slows for no one and they might be on the way out. Farewell, old friends.
Picture your coffee table now. The chances are there are at least two or three remotes on it, unless they are buried deep in the cushions of your sofa instead, or simply lost.

You'll have one for your television and you'll have one for your set-top box as well, while you might have a third for your sound system and maybe even a fourth for a DVD or Blu-Ray player.

This can all get a bit much, but no solution has been forthcoming. Manufacturers experimented with universal remotes, but they didn't work reliably and most people who bought one of them eventually got so frustrated with mashing the buttons to no firm response that they gave up.

Peep Show fans will also have fond memories of the Megatron remote control built by Jez and Mark by taping together all of their home's remotes into one massive controller. However, they got rid of it after realising it smelled "wrong".

But finally it seems as though a proper solution is on the way as technology is catching up to our desire not to have loads of different remotes clogging up our living rooms.

Apps

Our smartphones are able to control an increasing number of devices and the rise of smart televisions has fuelled this even further.

Games consoles are also increasingly using smartphones as an extra controller and it is surely only a matter of time until the manufacturers of DVD and Blu-Ray players fit them with sensors that can read instruction from a smartphone app. After all, apps have taken over the management of various areas of our lives, so this feels like a natural step.

The Internet of Things, as it has been dubbed, is also having an impact here. This refers to how household appliances are increasingly going to be hooked up to the net to allow us to control them remotely. Our homes are soon going to be stuffed with connected gadgets and while it may seem fanciful and unrealistic right now, it's going to be a reality soon enough.

Google has snapped up Nest, which produces remote-controlled temperature systems for homes, and it is likely Google has grand plans for how this technology can be adapted. And it would be a surprise if a remote control is factoring in to their plans at all, especially given the trend at the moment is for everything to be mobile.

The smartphones and tablets we use on a daily basis are set to get even more important and they will take on an increasing number of tasks, to the extent to which we will wonder how we were ever able to manage without them. It will seem ridiculous that we used to have to get up off the sofa to change the channel on the television, or to turn up the heating, or to switch a light on.

While this might contribute further to our sedentary lifestyles, it will suit perfectly the couch potatoes among us. Soon, you'll be able to wave goodbye to having to hunt out the remote control, as it will be in your pocket.

Unless you've also misplaced your phone, that is.


© Axonn 2015