Last month, we issued something of a plea to designers to simplify the TV remote–or remotes, as is invariably the case. Enter Carbon Design Group‘s Toggle: a sleek device that streamlines all remote functions into one touchpad experience.
With the richness of available media–which now includes not only TV watching but Internet surfing and gaming–the problem has become how to harness it all. “There are lots of people trying to solve this,” says Carbon’s Peter Bristol. “Some are trying to solve it mechanically with touch in one spot, a little mini-screen, and 5,000 buttons.” Bristol instead decided to leverage the touch experience of smartphones and tablets that everyone is familiar with (and has come to expect) — without the expensive touchscreen, thereby keeping the cost reasonably low.
How does it work? The top half of Toggle includes a masked grid that reveals four different interfaces when shifted (or, ahem, toggled) left, right, up, or down. While holding the device horizontally, shift up for a qwerty keyboard; shift down to use a touchpad primed for two-thumbed or multi-finger use. Shift right for casual gaming; shift left and spin the device 90 degrees for one-handed surfing. The exposed graphics are backlit with side-firing LEDs for use in dim lighting.
Carbon says that its capacitive touch technology can be tailored to other functions. A cable company, for instance, might want one mode optimized for channel surfing and another mode for DVR control. “The technical beauty of Toggle,” the press release states, “is that custom-built controllers could be made simply by changing a piece of firmware and a screen print.” Now if only Carbon could come up with an answer to the question of what to do with all those obsolete remotes.