Smartphone as Magic Wand: Your Remote Control for Everything

Electronic devices and household appliances are going mobile in increasing numbers. And your smartphone is about to go along for the ride. In fact, your smartphone is about to conduct the ride. “In the age of the connected home, your mobile devices are becoming the central command, the brains, if you will, of the entire smarthome experience,” writes Wired.

Rather than individual remotes for each device, why not mobile apps to control them? It’s convenient in multiple ways. “You’ve always got it with you when you’re out and about, it’s never far from hand when you’re sitting on the couch and it’s dead-simple to use,” notes the article.

It seems consumers are getting on board with this idea and it’s growing fast. According to Wired, there will be around 24 billion connected devices by 2020. “That figure certainly doesn’t seem beyond reach given the number of smartphones out there (300 million shipped in the first half of 2012, according to Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs) and the number of connected devices and appliances seen at CES 2013.”

For example, we reported last week that Technicolor was promoting its Qeo communications middleware technology that allows for interoperability between devices and applications across competing brands and ecosystems.

The article predicts the three main areas of life that consumers will be able to control via smartphones in the coming years: appliances, entertainment and the living environment.

It’s already fairly common in the entertainment sphere. “Pairing TVs with tablets and smartphones provides users a more intimate, natural way to navigate and find their content through a natural user interface,” said Joel Grenier, director of UX and ecosystem at Youi Labs, a company that demoed its smart TV interface at CES. “Both of these screens should provide value while being more connected with each other.”

As for home appliances, “a mix of apps and proximity-based technologies like NFC will let you start your washing machine remotely, give you vital stats about what’s going bad inside your fridge and even check on that roast in the oven,” writes Wired. 

The smartphone is also increasingly able to control other things around the home like light switches, thermostats and security systems.