Voice-controlled Amulet Remote listens when you talk

At first it might sound odd, but this high-tech remote might be going places.

Matt Hickey
With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.
Matt Hickey
Amulet Remote
Amulet Devices

I've got a pretty awesome remote control. I'm a home theater nerd, so it's a must. But the new Amulet Remote by 2-year old Irish start-up Amulet Devices does something mine does not: respond to voice commands.

I can see why this device--demoed this week at CES--would be handy to some people. Even if you lose the remote in the couch cushions, you can still yell, "Turn it up!" and not have to leave your La-Z-Boy.

The downside I can easily see is that if your family is anything like mine was growing up, this thing would go schizoid. I'd be yelling for Transformers while my brother would be yelling for Thundercats. If channels 11 and 12 had just scheduled them in different time slots my brother wouldn't have that scar on his chin.

Anyway, the remote is for more than just changing channels. It's smart enough to run your Windows Media Center. That part is pretty cool. According to the company, you could, for example, tell it to "Play Coldplay," and it would. (We'd recommend a less rip-offy band though.)

It's not the first voice control solution for Media Center, but combining the technology into a remote you'd need anyway makes for a pretty slick device if you're going that route. No word on pricing yet, but the Amulet is set to ship in March.

I hope I can hack it to work with my Apple TV.