The YIO Remote Two, an alternative to Harmony, will integrate with Home Assistant

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Nov 30, 2022

The Raspberry Pi Zero W based universal remote called YIO Remote is getting a successor in the YIO Remote Two, and it will integrate with Home Assistant out of the box, promising a much easier setup.

The YIO Remote Two will be, just as its predecessor was, an alternative to the soon disappearing Logitech Harmony universal remotes. Besides commercially available alternatives, the YIO Remote Two will have all the features avid Home Assistant users could wish for: It’s open-source and hackable, it has a well documented and local API, and its batteries are replaceable.

How the YIO Remote came to be

Believe it or not, the YIO Remote started life as a project that was shared to the Home Assistant community. Since the Touchscreen remote for HA, as it was called at the time, was first presented, the thread has been viewed 27k times, received 335 likes, and 195 replies. With the project garnering this much interest, it received its own forum and an official name: YIO Remote. The name is an acronym for Your Input/Output Remote. Over time, updates were coded and text was translated by the newly formed community.

The YIO Remote prototype called The Touchscreen remote for HA
The Touchscreen remote for HA (source: Home Assistant Community)

About a year after the first thread was started, a DIY kit hit Kickstarter for funding. For an investment of around US$370, this kit would be delivered, and for those not willing to do the assembly themselves, a little over US$500 would get them the finished product. The product funded on Kickstarter had much in common with the first prototype: It was based on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, it had a 480×800 pixel, 18 bit colour LCD panel, and it could be used by either interfacing with the touchscreen or pressing one of the buttons below it.

The YIO Remote Two from above, showing its screen and buttons
The first YIO Remote (source: Kickstarter)

What the prototype wasn’t equipped with was the proximity, gesture, and ambient light sensor and the haptic motor driver. Additionally, It was purely a touch-screen based remote and had not a single button. These were added to the Kickstarter version. Also missing from the prototype, and undoubtedly a part of what made the Kickstarter project comparable to other universal remotes, such as the Logitech Harmony, was the dock. The YIO Dock had in it several infrared LEDs for receiving and sending IR commands, and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. Is it to anyone’s surprise that an ESP32 powers an open project such as YIO Dock? It certainly wasn’t to me.

Doesn’t the YIO Remote already integrate with Home Assistant

It is true that the already existing YIO Remote does integrate with Home Assistant. You can use it to control blinds, heatings, lights, and media players that are already set up in Home Assistant, and it also integrates with the Home Assistant alternatives Homey and OpenHAB. Currently, though, the setup has to be done in the YIO Remote software by manually adding entities and not using Home Assistant.

The upcoming Home Assistant integration, which will be included in the YIO Remote Two, is set to be much more powerful. The most considerable change will be that you can integrate the YIO Remote Two using Home Assistant’s integrations, and not by configuring the remote itself. The goal is to be able to control the upcoming YIO Dock and YIO Remote Two from Home Assistant itself, making the setup much easier.

What else is new with the YIO Remote Two?

The YIO Remote Two was redesigned from the ground up. Out went the Raspberry Pi Zero W to be replaced by an (as of yet) unnamed SoC. This is due to the Raspberry Pi lacking a proper standby mode. When the remote wasn’t in use, it would just sit there, continually draining the battery. With its new SoC, The YIO Remote Two should last considerably longer between charges.

Apart from the SoC, and the exterior redesign, the YIO Remote Two features an OLED display, backlit buttons, microphone, speaker, and accelerometer. The ambient light sensor and haptic motor remain as part of the package. The accelerometer will most likely be used to let the SoC know when it can enter its standby mode. The OLED display should deliver better contrast and is potentially another power-saving feature.

The YIO Remote Two, which integrates with Home Assistant
The YIO Remote Two (source: YIO Blog)

The technology to be used with the microphone and speaker is, so far, a complete unknown. But considering this is an open-source product with a focus on privacy (hence Your I/O Remote), I wouldn’t expect Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant to be integrated.

When and how can you buy the YIO Remote Two?

As with the original YIO Remote, the YIO Remote Two will be launching on Kickstarter. There is no exact date known, except for “this summer”. The question on everyone’s lips is whether the second version will remain on sale, after the campaign has ended.

As with many other campaigns, the first Kickstarter was partially used to gauge interest in the product. By using Kickstarter as a pre-sale platform, no extra units had to be produced. But in this case, it also meant that the YIO Remote could only be acquired as long as the campaign was active. One would hope that the successor will receive a general release, if, of course, the demand for it is present.

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Liam Alexander Colman, the author and maintainer of Home Assistant Guides.

About Liam Alexander Colman

Liam Alexander Colman has been using Home Assistant for various projects for quite some time. What started off with a Raspberry Pi quickly became three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-blown server. I now use Unraid as my operating system, and Home Assistant happily runs in a Docker container. My personal setup includes many Zigbee devices as well as integrations with existing products such as my Android TV box. Read on to find out more on how I got started with Home Assistant.

2 thoughts on “The YIO Remote Two, an alternative to Harmony, will integrate with Home Assistant”

  1. The campaign of this remote is live since today, you may like to check it out and see the latest details 😉