By: Martin Durham
Do you fancy getting rid of the pile of remote controls on your coffee table (or lost somewhere down the back of the sofa) and using your smartphone or tablet to control your audio-visual equipment? This article explains how you can do that.
For many of us, our smartphone or tablet has become a device that is fundamental to the way we live our lives; it is very rarely far from our hands and we tend to panic when we can’t immediately find it. So how about replacing the pile of remote controls most of us have on our coffee tables (or lost somewhere down the back of the sofa) and using your smartphone or tablet to control your audio-visual equipment (or almost anything else in your home)?
Manufacturers of an increasing number of electrical devices provide their own app which you can install on your smartphone or tablet and which then allows you to control the device. If so, it would make sense to download the app and have a play. However, for the purpose of this article I’m going to assume that:
- No app is available for the device you want to control, or
- An app is available but you don’t like the interface, or
- You would like to have one app which can control a range of different devices (so you have fewer apps and a consistent interface).
The way we’re going too proceed is in two distinct phases:
- Connect the devices you want to control to your home computer network.
- Install an app on your smartphone or tablet and configure it to control your devices.
(The app then communicates with your devices via your home computer network.)
Connecting the devices you want to control to your home computer network
If the devices you want to control are already equipped with a network connection then you can probably ignore this step. If not, then we’re going to need an adapter of some type. The good news is that a company called Global Caché produces a range of network adapters which allow virtually any electrical device to be connected to a computer network.
The Global Caché range covers:
- Devices which can be controlled via an infra-red signal (i.e. most equipment which has a remote control).
- Devices which can be controlled via an on/off switch. (This is referred to as a contact-closure device in the jargon.)
- Devices which can be controlled via a serial (RS232) connection.
Installing an app on your smartphone or tablet
To control any Global Caché device you’ll need to download and install an app on your smartphone or tablet. Global Caché don’t produce an app, preferring to partner with third-party app developers (you can find a list here).