Using an iPod as a remote

As more of my sub-projects get completed, there is going to be a need to control the various systems. There are loads of IR/RF remotes around designed to handle all sorts of HA/AV equipment. However, since I’m building my systems I’m going to need a more flexible and easily customisable way of controlling them. As soon as Apple announced the iPod Touch I knew that I had found what I was after. To me it’s not the music-related stuff on the iPod that’s important, it’s the combination of WiFi and Safari. All I would have to do is set up a PHP/ASP.Net etc. based web site that can communicate with all the systems, then access it through an iPod.

Possible systems to control include:

  • Selecting audio sources and where to play them in the house
  • Scheduling recordings on the MythTV distributed A/V system
  • Controlling the lights
  • Monitoring the security cameras
  • Setting reminder alarms (announced)
  • Running photo slideshows around the house
  • Building shopping lists

To complement the iPod there will be several touch-screen terminals around the house which will give the same control, but in known locations so that the improvised remote doesn’t have to be carried around everywhere (and argued over).

I might mock-up some interface designs to give an idea of how I intend the system to work. Stay tuned!

13 thoughts on “Using an iPod as a remote”

  1. I’m currently working on something like this !

    I already have a prototype web interface for the iPod waiting for some Javascript to be included, and a Linux box with IR tranceiver wich is working pretty well.

    I’m looking forward to see your work !

  2. I’d be interested to see how you go about doing yours too. Will you be blogging about it? Now that I’ve almost got the necessary hardware to start, I plan on starting a prototype of the software soon. Only thing I lack at the moment is an iPod touch, but I’ve got a feel for how it works now (article coming soon).

    Out of interest, which javascript routines are you waiting on support for?

  3. David: funny you should mention making this into a product. Someone has contacted me about this, but I’ve not heard back from him in ages so I think my freelance rates must have scared him off!

  4. About the javascript, I’m just waiting to replace the simple image link with some AJAX interactions, for perfect responsiveness and feeling on the iPod.

    Also, I still have to refactor the program ( written in C ) to increase speed. For the moment it’s just a test program that load and unload the driver each times it’s called.

    I’ll surely blog about my work when I’ll reach something pretty and usable !

  5. why bother creating a web interface for the iPod when you can now develop directly on the iPod with SDK.

    Using the Cocoa Touch GUI will allow you to create an app the looks and feels like the remote you need.

    I am trying a similar thing plus a way to display the iPod touch screen on the TV screen.

  6. There are several reasons why I’ve decided not to use the SDK:

    o Mac-only development platform (I don’t have one)
    o It would only work on the iPod, not other interfaces
    o Restriction on distribution of apps

    The SDK is great if you’re doing something that requires access to non-scriptable features of the interface or doing something that would be too intensive on the processor to do in javascript. So far all the ideas I’ve had, including the ones related to work, do not require this level of development.

  7. I am sorry, but not using the SDK is like running a Ferrari in one gear. I have played with many devices, and come to the conclusion that you can’t compromise when it comes to the GUI.

    Buy a miniMac and start coding! If you want other interfaces, do them later 😉

  8. Hi,

    I’ve developed a suite of programs to use with the USB-UIRT transceiver. I recently added an HTTP server to my suite so any device which runs a browser with AJAX support can be turned into a very advanced universal IR remote control. Note that the latest version with the HTTP server is not available on my website just yet, but it will soon be.

    That includes the Iphone and Ipod touch. I’m actually using my Ipod touch at home to control all of the A/V stuff in my home theatre.

    Feel free to check it out at

  9. You might want to check out “Remote Buddy” on google. It’s an AJAX app that has been written to handle… I think… this sort of thing.

  10. Remote Buddy doesnt quite do what I need it to. It appears that it is designed to control applications on a Mac, as a more advanced version of a Mac remote. I require the ability to control my custom-made audio system, including the matrix switcher, with software that runs on my Ubuntu server.

    I might start writing the software today, depending how many other jobs I can get through.

  11. The iPod soluction sounds good, but one problem which doesn’t seem easy to solve is the power problem. Using wireless networking drains my iTouch rather quickly. You might have to recharge them almost nightly. This won’t be much of a problem if iPods and iTouches are standard issue appliances chez vous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *