UK-based iPod and iPhone audio accessory maker Gear4 has launched its UnityRemote in the United States, with the promise of enabling iOS devices—like the iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad—to work as universal remotes that can control virtually any electronic device that has an infrared receiver. Although consumers won’t be able to set their hands on it in time for most gift-giving deadlines, the gizmo may appeal to folks who find themselves with an overabundance of remotes once presents are unwrapped.
“Excitement for UnityRemote has been building and we’re looking forward to having consumers start using it in their homes,” said Gear4 CEO Tom Dudderidge, in a statement. “People are already so comfortable and familiar with their iDevices, it will be a huge convenience to use it as a remote as well.”
Unlike conventional remote control applications for iOS devices, the UnityRemote is a two-part system. One part is the user’s existing iOS device running a free app from Gear4, and the small UnityRemote device, which Gear4 says can be placed “anywhere” in a room where users want to control devices. The app communicates with the UnityRemote device via Bluetooth, and the UnityRemote device emits the appropriate infrared commands using five transmitters to cover a full 360 degrees.
Users can configure the UnityRemote apps to control devices from a large list of manufacturers, and if a device is not listed the app has a learning mode so users can control unknown devices. The application also enables users to device “actions,” which are essentially macro command sequences that can control multiple devices at the same time. Users can also adjust control layouts on the application screens to combine useful items they want. For instance, play controls for a Blu-ray player can be put next to volume controls for a separate home theater system.
The Gear4 UnityRemote is now available for $99; although it doesn’t work with the original iPhone, it is compatible with the iPhone 3G or newer, the second-generation iPod touch or newer, and the iPad.