If your living-room coffee table is at all like mine then chances are it's cluttered with remote controls of every kind. And even with all these clickers on hand, I bet it seems you can never find the one you want most. It doesn't have to be this way, says Eyesight, a company that hopes to sell an ambitious gadget called the Onecue.
Priced at $199, the Onecue is an electronic eye designed to let you command a wide range of home appliances solely by making hand gestures and arm movements, no clunky remotes necessary. This includes a gamut of gear such as HDTVs, AV receivers, media streamers, even smart thermostats and Wi-Fi-linked lights.
Measuring 9.2 inches long by 1.1 inch deep, and standing 1.9 inches tall, the rectangular Onecue looks like a close cousin to the Kinect 2.0 accessory bundled with Xbox One gaming systems. Perhaps this is no coincidence, since like Kinect gadgets, the Onecue packs a digital camera whose eye is focused straight at you.
Jet black, smooth and featureless, the Onecue could almost be one of the many sound bar speakers tucked into plenty of home theater setups. What breaks the comparison though is a wide 3-inch LCD screen that sits squarely in the middle of the Onecue's front face. This display showcases icons that match the device you currently control and you scroll left or right to toggle through components.
Thanks to a multifunction mount, you can use the Onecue's V-shaped accessory as a conventional stand or clip the device on the top edge of your TV. According to Eyesight there are sensors and ports hidden within the Onecue, such as a Micro-USB port, IR transmitter and receiver, a speaker around back and a Bluetooth 4.0 radio.
So what exactly is the Onecue designed to really do? If Eyesight's vision pans out, quite a bit. For example, the sensor is intended to link together devices that operate on the same Wi-Fi network, such as HDTVs, video-streaming products like the Apple TV and Roku 3 , and game consoles. The Onecue will also have the chops to command standard home AV equipment via its IR (infrared) emitter.
As a matter of fact, Eyesight claims Wi-Fi-enabled smart-home products are within the Onecue's purview, specifically Nest thermostats and Hue LED bulbs from Philips. Also on the list are motorized IR blinds and shades, light switches and power outlets. What's noticeably absent from this gadget roundup are cable and satellite boxes, though Eyesight reps told me that they too can be controlled using the Onecue's IR blaster.
Eyesight envisions Onecue users interacting with living-room devices with their hands, or rather just one hand. The idea is to wake up the Onecue, or other living-room gear, by performing a quick wave, almost like waving hello, then sliding your paws left or right to cause the Onecue's menus icons to sweep by.
Closing and opening your fingers twice in swift succession acts as a virtual mouse click, launching the selected icon's associated component. Eyesight has even built in a shushing gesture, engaged by bringing your index finger to your lips. This mutes all appliance audio in a flash -- a neat trick I'd love to see in the flesh.
I admit that the Eyesight worldview of an intelligent and more human-centered home interface is extremely compelling. This is especially true for those, like me, who have acquired a Frankenstein monster of a home theater system complete with outdated parts never envisioned to coexist, let alone be controlled by one remote.
That said, customers can always take the more conventional route and buy a simple universal remote from, say, Logitech Harmony. For instance the Logitech Harmony Home Control manages to master a universe of home products, and does it pretty well. Also bear in mind that you'll have to wait until early 2015 to get your hands on the $199 Onecue -- that's when Eyesight expects it to hit store shelves. The product is available for preorder now for a lower $129 price via the company's official website.