It’s not really fair. My TV (and every other piece of home electronics) is a slave to a remote. But because the remote only barks out orders and never asks questions, or listens, it’s a cause for frustration.
We have a Logitech Harmony remote, and it’s a great thing. But because the communication is one-way it’s often as frustrating an experience using it as trying to find the right one of the half dozen remotes scattered around the living room.
Now, imagine a world where every TV, Xbox, Squeezebox, and amplifier had a Bluetooth (BT) or other wireless chip in and as well as listening for orders they can communicate their status both between devices and to their controller.
Couple that with a smartphone (or a dedicated smart remote control) and you have a real universal remote that can be task driven (I want to watch Cable or play a DVD on the Xbox or listen to music), query the relevant devices (to confirm what state it thinks they are in) and then make intelligent decisions about they need to do (on or off, change source, adjust volume levels) – including powering on or off devices in the correct sequence.
Today’s IrDA based devices don’t offer that sort of flexibility or control – the communication isn’t two way, the protocols defined in the 1970’s don’t really have the flexibility or richness and the limitation of line of sight control starts to interfere with talking to multiple devices concurrently anyway.
In this solution there would be no more line of sight problems (can even talk to equipment in a cabinet). No more getting out of sync with the source channel on the TV (because it's cyclical rather than direct access). No more pop from the speakers when the TV turns off before the amplifier (they can communicate... if the TV "knows" it's using the speakers - or the remote does - part of the shut-down process could be to mute the speakers, shut them off and then shut down the TV, or if changing over to the Squeezebox then mute them, change source, start Squeezebox, turn off TV, un-mute speakers returning them to the default volume and EQ for listening to music as opposed to for TV)
The problem today is that while BT to IrDA devices exist that's only half the solution... The back channel to the remote doesn't exist. For this to work the Bluetooth, ZigBee or WiFi SIGs would need to be more aggressive in promoting the value of something like this to the hardware manufacturers. Bluetooth and WiFi are already supported in most smartphones, but ZigBee with its lower power requirements would be an interesting solution if it has the living room range.
For it to work there needs to be one standard that can be rolled out cost effectively. Who is going to step up and lead the charge from the three incumbent wireless technologies (or will we see a new player emerge to eclipse them?)