A lost remote control is the most minor of seizures. Hardly a nuisance really, usually solved by turning over enough sofa cushions. Maybe that’s why it took the disruptive types so long to come up with solutions. These solutions are here now, however, and they are delicious.
Credit to Year First: It pioneered remote search years ago, but only for high-end streaming player models. But the past few months have seen a small revolution in remote control tracking, with improvements and options previously unexplored, including from Roku itself.
The most obvious beneficiaries of the tiny transformation are the owners of Apple TV. the Siri remote, a slim little number that seems intentionally designed to slip into places you can’t find, offers no cure for a demise beyond using the Apple TV Remote app on your phone. (It works in a pinch, but remotes with physical buttons are a much better experience than tapping the glass.) Even an updated version of the hardware, announced in April and on sale the following month, has remained off the grid. . This is particularly surprising, perhaps, given that not so long ago, Apple designed a so-called U1 chip whose main job is to help find things.
Fortunately, Apple uses the U1 in AirTags, the company’s recently announced response to Tile and other tracking widgets. This is where Derrick Ensley, who runs the PrintSpired Designs 3D printing store, saw an opportunity. Shortly after the AirTags were announced, Ensley got to work designing a slim Siri Remote box that has room to smuggle an AirTag on board. It sells both the case itself and the schematics for anyone who wants to print it, both for previous and current material generations.
“Because of the remote’s thinness and smooth materials, it’s very easy to squeeze between the sofa cushions,” Ensley says of Apple’s remote. “Of course there are a lot of people who can’t figure out how people lose their remotes, but as a father of a 2 year old, it’s pretty easy to get lost.”
Ensley says that after a first wave of orders after covering some tech news sites, he still sells several dozen cases each week. And while his company has benefited from Apple’s design decisions, he finds it odd that the company hasn’t offered any sort of lifeline to owners of missing remotes, even without incorporating the U1 chip.
“It would have been trivial for Apple to incorporate at least one small speaker into its second-generation Siri remote to help people find it,” he says. “The AirTag’s U1 capabilities are probably overkill for a remote, but I’ve found that asking Siri to play a sound on my remote’s AirTag is more than enough to find it quickly.”
In the absence of these measures, however, the AirTag enclosure solution is gaining momentum. This week, accessories company Elago announced its Apple TV Siri Remote R5 Case, a thick silicone case that includes an AirTag slot. Elago had solved the mischievous remote control problem before, with an R1 box loaded with magnets that let you lay it securely on any metal surface. “With the introduction of Apple’s new AirTags, we’ve seen a natural transition to a new remote control box,” said Michael Limm, CEO of Elago. “We knew that the demand for this type of functional case was important to our customers because of the quality of the sale of our R1 case. “
Ensley says he’s received requests to branch out into other remotes, especially Roku, given its ubiquity. But for some Roku owners, a case is moot; the remote already does the work for you.
The grande dame of streaming rules for hide-and-seek have always been limited to a handful of top-of-the-line models, but provide a nice respite for those who get into it. The Roku Ultra and Roku 4 streaming boxes have a long history of having buttons that, when pressed, cause their associated remotes to emit noise for a minute or until you find it, whichever comes first. You can even choose from a variety of sounds to make, if you dig into your Roku settings.