The universal remote of the past could control your TV, cable box, DVD player, VCR, and maybe a few other devices. But with the rise of smart homes, the remote is growing up to command connected lights, blinds, locks, and, of course, the entertainment system.
On Wednesday, Logitech debuted its newest remote, the Harmony Living Home, capable of automating 270,000 compatible home devices, including the Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lights, August Smart Locks, SmartThings hub, Zuli plugs, and more. The remote, which retails for $350, will be available for sale later this month.
The new remote sports a refreshed user interface from the original Harmony Touch. Launched in 2012, the Harmony Touch took the first step toward controlling the connected home, able to adjust Philips’s color-changing Hue bulbs. Like its predecessor, the Harmony Living Home lets users set up activities to trigger multiple devices connected to its hub with the press of a single button. For example, users can create an activity for the end of the day to turn off all lights, shut off the TV, adjust the temperature, lower the window shades, and lock the doors.
It’s a smart move to upgrade the familiar TV remote, a staple of American households, so it can control a bevy of Internet-connected devices. Given today’s fragmented smart homes, such a universal remote bypasses the need to juggle multiple standalone apps, one from each manufacturer. Apple is also tackling this fragmentation with HomeKit in iOS 8, which launches today.
While many consumers may love the idea of updating their homes for the 21st century, they don’t always want to pull out their smartphones to control all these smart devices. Case in point: Two years after Philips debuted its innovative light bulbs, the company decided to launch a physical light switch that can turn its bulbs on and off and activate preset lighting scenes–no smartphone necessary.