UK-based GEAR4, a company better known for its iPod and iPhone audio docks, today announced the U.S. availability of its UnityRemote that turns an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into a universal remote control. To get around the fact these Apple devices don’t pack an infrared transmitter, the GEAR4 setup consists of an app available for free from the iTunes Store and a small cylindrical device that receives a Bluetooth signal from an iOS device and then sends an infrared command to control the various components of your home entertainment setup.
GEAR4 says the cylindrical IR transmitter, which is powered by three AA batteries, can be placed anywhere in a room thanks to five infrared transmitters within the device providing 360 degrees of coverage. The free app allows users to select the device to be controlled from a database of manufacturers and there’s also a "learn" function if you’ve got some obscure piece of kit that doesn’t appear on the list.
Users can also set up ‘actions’ to control multiple devices simultaneously – turning on your TV, DVD player and sound system with a single touch, for example. There’s also the ability to customize various remote layouts with buttons for multiple devices on the one screen. If you’re just watching TV then you can customize a layout with just volume and channel controls, then if you’re watching a DVD another remote layout could be chosen with additional DVD controls.
GEAR4’s UnityRemote is compatible with iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4; iPod touch 2G, 3G and iPad. It is available through Amazon for US$99.