"Imagine a remote control capable of switching channels on your television right from its spot on the table, one that requires no clumsy fumbling about with the hands to operate. That bold, inactive future is here."
That's a fake quote from a fake Sony executive in a fake news story published in The Onion almost 20 years ago. The headline? "New remote control can be operated by remote."
Today, Logitech and Amazon think they can do one better. Their solution: a new Amazon Alexa voice skill for the Logitech Harmony universal remote control. Enable it on your Alexa device, and you'll essentially be able to ask the virtual voice assistant to operate your smart remote, and do things like turn on the TV, change the channel, dim the lights or even do everything all at once. Some example commands include:
- "Alexa, turn on the TV"
- "Alexa, turn on Netflix"
- "Alexa, turn on my evening activity"
That last one is an example of a command that can trigger multiple things to happen at once. Just set the activity up in Logitech's interface, and Alexa will be able to trigger it when asked.
The skill works with all Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Dot mini-speaker and the battery-powered Amazon Tap speaker. One caveat, though: It only works if you're using a Logitech Harmony remote that comes paired with the Logitech Harmony Hub, such as the Logitech Harmony Elite or Logitech Harmony Companion.
The new skill will be available this week in the US, and it should be arriving in the UK within the coming months, per Logitech.
"This new capability is both practical and fun for our users," said Renee Niemi, general manager of the smart home business at Logitech. "We've been working closely with Amazon to deliver robust voice control of your smart home using a Harmony hub-based remote and an Alexa-enabled device -- and if you don't have Harmony yet, just say 'Alexa, order a Harmony Hub' and have one delivered."
In other words...that bold, inactive future is here.