I don't mean we should all start trying to inspire revolution in some far away place (though who knows what the power of thought can do) ... I mean it's time for the humble remote control in our living room to actually catch up with some of the technology advances and become a productive member of society.
I use a Logitech Harmony 880 remote. I've had it for a while and I think it's a really neat idea, but it's so let down by the things it's trying to control and how they play well with the remote and each other (or more to the point... how they don't).
Remember back in the day how the remote involved your Dad telling you to get up and change the channel by turning the dial on the TV (okay, maybe I'm older than you!).
Then came push button channel changing, followed around the time of the VCR (anyone remember VHS vs Betamax?) by wired remotes (and the wire was always too short).
The freedom brought by IrDA finally cutting the cord was, sadly, the end of any major advances in the underlying technology of the remote control.
Sure, my TV, Cable Set Top Box, DVD/VCR, XBox360, Squeezebox and Z-5500 amp/speakers all respond to remote control signals (in fact my LG DVD/VHS is really dumb because it incorrectly responds to signals meant for the Squeezebox) and if it wasn't for the Harmony I'd have a lot more batteries to buy!
But the control isn't perfect. For instance my TV doesn't allow the Harmony to send a specific source (eg HDMI1), you have to cycle through them. Which would be fine if it was always a fixed progression but it's "smart"... a source is inactive it disappears from the cycle. Even the Media Center with all it's processing power doesn't do any sort of two-way communication (though both it and the Squeezebox have IrBlaster capabilities they could make use of as a return path...)
The other pain is if things are out of sync with how the harmony thinks they're set up then it gets confused and turns things off that sound be on, or selects the wrong audio source or something. Now 99% of the time I don't blame Logitech (though for some reason they don't quite have the options figured out in the setup process for the Z-5500 audio sources)... I blame the future for not being here when it was promised.
Back in 2005 I remember reading wonderful proclamations from the ZigBee folks that their wonderful new low power radio mesh technology would be in consumer electronics within a couple of years...
... well, I'm still waiting.
Where are the smart remotes that can query device status before asking them to do something? Where are the programming interfaces so when I power up my Squeezebox via the web interface from another room it can query the Z-5500 amp and ask it to change to the right input and effect? Where are the really smart devices that can shut down everything apart from the ZigBee receiver (really saving some power) until they are needed.
Put that technology into consumer electronics, wire it up to a smart remote like a Harmony 1000 and I'll be very happy (the Harmony does support "Z-Wave", which appears to be Logitechs implementation of ZigBee but they're almost too embarrassed to talk about it!).