This is how you use your smartphone as a remote control

It's actually remarkable how little the remote's design has changed. It has also been a wireless device for a very long time. As a result, he sometimes loses. And while a universal remote usually helps to control most televisions, there is a much easier solution.

That solution is found in a device that has already replaced the home telephone and camera for many people: your smartphone. Some smartphones are equipped with infrared, so you can use them as a universal remote control. Various apps can be downloaded for this, where you can specifically select your television brand and type to start zapping immediately.

Infrared is still available on smartphones. It's been out for a while, as Bluetooth was able to take over a lot from the much slower infrared. Infrared can also be used as a remote control, because for data transfer it is really better to turn to Bluetooth and WiFi.

This is how you use your phone as a remote control

First check whether your phone is equipped with infrared. This can be seen by a glossy black piece of plastic on the top of the device. It is often very small. If you can't find it, check the manufacturer's website online to see if infrared is part of your phone's specifications. Various Huawei and Xiaomi phones, among others, have infrared.

You can then see if there is an app on your phone that allows you to use the infrared to control your television. Peel is a common one, which can also be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Another good option in the App Store is AnyMote, or, if you want to keep things simpler, ASmart Remote. Where you can study a lot of smart devices in your home with AnyMote, ASmart is more organized. In it you specifically select your television and then you can zap immediately.

Infrared on the smartphone: the future?

If we now have infrared built into all smartphones, do televisions no longer have to be supplied with a remote control? Probably not. There's a reason that even the most expensive smart TVs still come with plastic remotes with rubber-like buttons. That's probably because touch screens don't necessarily have much added value on a remote control and are less resistant to knocks than plastic with buttons. Also, touch screens often have to light up to operate them, which isn't as subtle as that good old remote with its buttons you can find by touch.

Experts also have a different idea about how we will control our television in the future. We probably seem to be doing that with our voice. Most televisions already have the option to do that, but you could also use your Google Home to zap, for example. Especially now that it is in Dutch, it should be easier for the 'computer' to understand what you are instructing it to do. But: is it nice if someone starts talking to the television during an exciting movie? Since many smart TVs are connected to the internet, they can also be controlled without infrared using smartphone and tablet apps.

For the time being, we will probably still receive remote controls with buttons with our televisions. Certainly because you can do with a television for many years, the remote control is still an indispensable part of households. And if you do lose that handy little box, then hopefully you can use your smartphone to still be in control of your viewing on your television.

The history of the remote control

The remote control as we know it, i.e. wireless, was already introduced in the 1950s. Eugene F. McDonald was an American who didn't appreciate having to watch commercials, so he wanted a zapper for that. He also wanted to be able to make the sound softer. His designers at Zenith got to work and the Flashmatic was born. That it looked more like a futuristic gun from the Jetsons than a remote control like now, doesn't matter: at least it was wireless. The Flashmatic still worked with lights, but it didn't seem to combine well with sunlight. There were some alternatives in the form of sound waves and aluminum, but infrared was finally introduced in the 1970s.

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