The Future of the Remote Control: Tablets & Cell Phones

While Television has changed constantly since it's inception, there is one piece of it that has not seen all that much practical change in quite a while. The remote, which was a revelation when it came out, is now considered to be a run of the mill, boring, and outdated piece of tech. In fact, many companies, such as Logitech, began making high-end universal remotes with elaborate LCD screens to give the illusion that their remotes were somehow better, when in fact most remotes use the same basic communication tech that they used 20 years ago.

However, change is finally coming to the market, and it seems like it's all coming at once. One of the most promising new remote technologies allows consumers to use devices that they already own to control their televisions and other media equipment. Smarphones and tablets have always had bluetooth built into them, primarily to talk to other phones and headsets, but now many set-top box manufacturers and some TV manufacturers have begun to implement bluetooth into their products, while simultaneously creating apps for smartphones and tablets to communicate with the devices.

While the technology to simply interact with your tablet or smartphone as a standard remote or universal remote already exists and is in use, there are many other things that manufacturers would like to implement to make the experience even better. Take Microsoft's currently under development app, "SmartGlass", for example. This app will interact with the Xbox 360, which Microsoft is working hard to position as an entertainment device as well as a game console, allowing the user to navigate menus with the tablet, but also receive addition data on what they are watching or playing. The example that Microsoft gave was being able to see a map of the world in Game of Thrones while you watched the TV show, but the possibilities are endless. Adding this extra layer of interactivity inside of the remote makes the experience better for both consumers and manufacturers.

Of course, change will not happen overnight, and the problem of companies keeping proprietary solutions to themselves will continue to be a huge issue, but things will very likely eventually straighten themselves out and we, as the consumer can use any portable device that we already own to control any device that we have sitting in our living room, or perhaps eventually, our entire house. Until then though, we can keep up with the developments and go along for the ride, which promises to be a rather thrilling one.

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