Universal remotes have been around for years, but they’ve mostly been limited by the devices they’re connected to. But with the release of Griffin Technology’s Beacon IR controller, video viewers will be able to navigate live TV, video on demand and multiple streaming video services all from a single application. And San Francisco-based startup Dijit will provide the universal mobile remote control application that enables users to control multiple video devices connected to their HDTVs at once.
We wrote about Dijit a few weeks ago, noting its ability to control Roku media streaming boxes. But the app, along with Wednesday’s release of Beacon to the public, opens up a whole new realm of devices that can be navigated. The Dijit app connects to the Beacon hub via Bluetooth and then provides universal access to content through the software. Users can add their TVs, DVRs, Blu-ray players, and multiple streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV devices — basically anything that has an IR controller.
The Dijit app provides the same sort of up-down-left-right navigation capabilities that are available on typical TV remotes, but improves on the search and discovery functionality available through typical electronic programming guides. In addition to accessing the traditional grid program guide available to cable subscribers, it enables users to search, navigate and manage movies in their Netflix queue. The app also has social sharing capabilities built in, enabling users to rate, comment on and share what they’re watching through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
The release of the Dijit app and Beacon controller follows the trend of “appification” for video remote control. A number of cable, satellite and IPTV providers, for instance, are all seeking to improve search and navigation of their content, and many are turning to mobile applications for the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices to do so. But those applications typically only work with the live and on-demand video feeds that they control. Dijit provides an extra layer of sophistication by accessing multiple devices.
Dijit and Griffin aren’t the only ones that are seeking to unify the experience between devices — the recently released Peel controller also provides an iPhone into a remote control for multiple devices as well. But the Griffin Beacon has the benefit of hitting major retailers, including the Apple Store, both online and in retail locations. This is a hot space, and we’ll be keeping tabs on new entrants as they come out.