singlecue @ CES 2015

Finding the perfect universal remote is something of a personal quest for me. I’ve seen, and used, a lot of them and unfortunately I’m still on the hunt. With that in mind I will check out pretty much anything in the space where the vendor is trying something new or interesting, and even then I set the bar low in hopes that, on an off chance, I will discover something promising.

When I agreed to visit with singlecue (called onecue at the time), I was expecting to see just another gesture based remote – a neat, but mostly unusable in the real world device, mostly because of all the training it requires to get going. singlecue was not that. It worked, and it was pretty amazing. That’s not to say that it was perfect, or even a finished product. There were BETA type issues present in the demo but there was potential there – a lot of potential.

As a remote-less gesture based device controller you naturally get the benefits of not having an actual remote to charge or lose or have to figure out how to get whatever was on the kids hands when they touched it last off. Gestures aren’t free though, so there is a bit of a learning curve, but nothing onerous. Just noting that the remote isn’t lost and the few, simple, gestures that control it all. For me the hardest part was to relax and stop trying to interact with it like every other gesture based remote I’ve played with which require an unnatural position and control cadence. With the singlecue, it actually worked best with me leaning back on the couch using lazy motions.

At launch singlecue will primarily leverage IR blasting to control devices, but where possible IP will be used to provide a stateful mechanism. I wasn’t able to get a detailed product list, so it isn’t clear which of the huge number of devices it will control are via IR and which use IP. The device also has Bluetooth 4.0/LE included, but for now that isn’t for control, it just drives the Bluetooth IR repeater intended for those hard-to-blast enclosed areas. I would have liked for RF4CE hardware to be in the box because many of the newer pay TV STB use that protocol to enable non-LOS (line of sight) remotes. There are also some open questions around how, with just a few gestures, it will be possible to navigate the Guide or enter text (e.g. searching for content) and numbers (e.g. direct channel selection), but the team stood up well to some very detailed questions around dealing with state, HDMI CEC, and user training making it clear that they get it and are committed to building something very cool. Hopefully it will be exactly what I’ve been looking for, and definitely one to watch over the next year.

If you’d like to grab one when it comes out later this spring it will cost $199, but if you’re willing to pre-order now you can procure one from the first batch for $129 from the singlecue website.