Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Better "Universal Remotes"

I've had to use universal remotes, and so far they suffer from a few universal complaints.

The MUTE button is far too small. It is the button I use most frequently when watching TV: I use it whenever commercials come on.

They use buttons to select which device to talk to, but there is no way for the hapless user to tell which was actually selected.

So you can add a great deal of value to the remote by

  • Put the MUTE button close to the bottom for easier thumbing, and make it bigger: 1cm or bigger in diameter.
  • Use a 3-position sliding switch to select the device. This lets you see immediately which machine you are trying to talk to. The additional component cost won't be more than a few cents. If you want to simultaneously add a battery check and offer more feedback for people with poor vision, add three LEDs across the top of the remote--one for each device type. Punch any command and the LED for that device lights up briefly if the batteries are still good.


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