I was looking at some smart home remotes and was shocked by the insane prices:
I don’t have $1,300 to drop on a remote:
… and I definitely don’t have $2,199:
I started thinking about how I could make one myself using my 3D printer.
But then I realized… wait… these “smart home remotes” are basically just LCD screens, with a CPU, connected to WiFi. These are just smartphones with a few tactile buttons.
If I want a dedicated smart home remote, then why not just buy a cheap Android phone? Maybe something relatively small and thin, like a Samsung Galaxy A04 for about $100 USD:
It could run a dedicated Home Assistant remote app and wake up the screen instantly when the accelerometer detects motion. I could set up a little dock next in my living room, or put a wireless charger on our coffee table. I could automate the charging schedule to keep the battery healthy.
Some people might ask, “Why not just use the phone you already have?” It’s fine, but there’s too much friction.
- Take my iPhone out of my pocket
- Unlock the screen with face ID
- Something goes wrong with face ID, have to wait a few seconds and type in my passcode
- Swipe up to close the current app
- Swipe back to the first page of apps
- Tap “Home Assistant”
- Wait for it to load
- Scroll to the entity I want to control
Imagine if you could have a dedicated device that only runs a single app, so you can just pick it up and start using it instantly to control the volume, lights, temperature, etc. You don’t even have to unlock it, the screen is on as soon as you touch it.
It could show the currently playing song or TV show at the top. It could have a Plex view that lists all the available movies, and you could click one to start playing. You could go to the “security cameras” tab and see live streams for all your cameras. When someone presses the doorbell, it could instantly bring up the front door camera on the screen. (This last one is only possible when you have dedicated app that is always running in the foreground. It can’t be done on my main phone.)
I also have an IR blaster running ESPHome in my living room, so the dedicated phone could even be a universal remote that replaces all of our existing IR remotes (TV, Roku, stereo.) You could switch between the different remotes, or combine all the important buttons into a single view.
Does an app like this already exist? I know it can be done with lovelace in the Home Assistant companion app, but I’m looking for a fully native app that is built from the ground up to be super fast and always running in the foreground.