TV remotes are ubiquitous. Even more than smartphones, they live in all of our homes, but have largely been abandoned due to the advent of Wifi and Bluetooth.

We challenged ourselves to build a hardware hack that anyone would be able use at home using just off-the-shelf parts and without tinkering experience. Bringing TV remotes into the 21st century fit that goal perfectly.

What it does

Control anything on your laptop by pointing a TV remote at it!

Our app translates gestures into common actions. These actions are context-aware and specific to whatever app you're using. We've added support for many common apps, but extending this to your favorite app takes just seconds using our configuration system.

How we built it

We took advantage of the fact that laptop webcams can detect infrared (IR) light in addition to the visible light spectrum. We use OpenCV to identify the IR light coming from TV remotes and apply gesture recognition to this data to turn movements into human-understandable gestures.

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posted an update

The interesting thing about Beyong is that IR is a line-of-sight method of communication. As a result, this only works if the remote is pointed at the laptop. This is a feature because a single remote can control multiple laptops and devices, without the user having to scroll through a menu, like in many bluetooth tools.

We further expanded on this project by building a small and cheap IR receiver that is wifi enabled, allowing us to control IoT object with the TV remote. Imagine - the same remote can be pointed at a lamp to turn it off, at one laptop to turn on music, and at another to browse the web! Unlike the usual IoT app, it's just point and click.

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