Our homes are getting smarter, from hue-shifting lightbulbs to thermostats that know your commute. And Sevenhugs Smart Remote aims to be the single, contextually aware remote control you need to master them all.
Point the Smart Remote at a Philips Hue smart lightbulb and you can tap on its touchscreen display to turn off the bulb. Then, point the remote at your Sonos speaker and the screen's display will not let you crank up the volume, or switch tracks. Here's the "contextually aware" bit: point it at your fireplace, and you can bump the temperature up on your Nest Thermostat. Or maybe you just want to know if you need to tote an umbrella -- point the Smart Remote at your window, and it'll show you the weather forecast.
It kinda sounds like dark magic, right? It's actually quite simple: the Smart Remote understands where it is in your home, thanks to Wi-Fi and three connected sockets that are included in the package. The remote triangulates its position between these sockets to a range of about 10 meters (30 feet), and you can train it to associate a particular spot with a particular gadget: that space on the wall, your fireplace or window becomes tied to your Nest.
Sevenhugs' Smart Remote is still under development. The chubby prototype on display here at CES 2016 in Las Vegas looks nothing like the swanky, colorful remotes shown on Sevenhugs' site. And it's currently limited to the Philips Hue, Sonos speakers and the Nest Thermostat.
But I was told that it has the potential to work with any smart home appliance that connects to your Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth, so other partners should be available soon. Better still, the connected sockets you'll use to help the Smart Remote find its way double as a way to get "dumb" devices in on the action. I saw a prototype socket shaped as a lightbulb socket, and watched a normal light bulb turned on with a press.
Sevenhugs' Smart Remote will be available for preorder sometime between February and March, and is slated to ship in September. Sevenhugs hasn't ruled out a Kickstarter campaign, but one isn't currently planned. There's also no word on a price: I was told that the company is aiming to land at under $200, which converts to around £140 or AU$280, and would get you the remote and three connected sockets.