With the imminent fading of Logitech Harmony universal remotes from our living rooms, a new contender emerges to fill the void: the Unfolded Circle Remote Two. Building on the legacy of its Raspberry Pi Zero W-based predecessor, the Unfolded Circle Remote Two, this sequel promises seamless integration with Home Assistant, ushering in a hassle-free setup experience.
A New Dawn for Universal Remotes: Meet the Unfolded Circle Remote Two
The Unfolded Circle Remote Two stands tall as a worthy contender in the realm of universal remotes, offering both commercial and DIY enthusiasts a feature-rich alternative. Its open-source and hackable nature allows for endless customization, while the well-documented local API caters to the tech-savvy. And fear not, environmental warriors, the Unfolded Circle Remote Two boasts replaceable batteries for a longer-lasting, eco-friendly experience.
The origin story of the Unfolded Circle Remote Two
The Unfolded Circle Remote Two embarked on its journey to revolutionize the universal remote landscape about a year after the project was shared in the Home Assistant forums. A DIY kit sprouted on Kickstarter, seeking funding and offering tech enthusiasts a chance to bring this marvel to fruition. Pledging roughly US$370 would secure the DIY kit, while a little over US$500 would get backers a fully assembled remote.
The Unfolded Circle Remote Two prototype and its Kickstarter counterpart shared several features: a Raspberry Pi Zero W core, a vivid 480×800 pixel, 18-bit colour LCD panel, and a choice of touchscreen or button controls. But the Kickstarter version took it up a notch, boasting proximity, gesture, and ambient light sensors, as well as a haptic motor driver, which were absent in the prototype.
Another significant upgrade was the addition of the Smart Charging Dock, complete with infrared LEDs for IR command reception and transmission, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, and powered by the ever-reliable ESP32. This game-changing element brought the Unfolded Circle Remote Two into the big leagues, rivalling established players like the Logitech Harmony.
Unfolded Circle Remote Two's Integration with Home Assistant
While it's true that the current Unfolded Circle Remote Two already integrates with Home Assistant, allowing users to control blinds, heating, lights, and media players, its compatibility with Home Assistant alternatives like Homey and OpenHAB leaves room for improvement. At present, the setup process requires users to manually add entities within the Unfolded Circle Remote Two software.
However, the upcoming Home Assistant integration in the Unfolded Circle Remote Two is poised to make a significant leap forward. The most notable enhancement will be the ability to connect the Unfolded Circle Remote Two through Home Assistant's integrations, rather than fiddling with the remote's configuration. This change aims to enable users to control the next-generation Smart Charging Dock and Unfolded Circle Remote Two directly from Home Assistant, streamlining the setup process and creating a more user-friendly experience.
Exciting New Features of the Unfolded Circle Remote Two
The Unfolded Circle Remote Two has been reimagined from the ground up, leaving no stone unturned. The Raspberry Pi Zero W has been retired in favour of a more power-efficient unnamed SoC. The Pi's inability to enter a proper standby mode led to unnecessary battery drain, but the new SoC aims to extend the remote's lifespan between charges.
But that's not all: the Unfolded Circle Remote Two's facelift also includes an OLED display, backlit buttons, a microphone, a speaker, and an accelerometer, while retaining the ambient light sensor and haptic motor from its predecessor. The accelerometer is expected to signal the SoC when it's time for standby mode, and the OLED display should offer better contrast and potential power savings.
The microphone and speaker technology remains a mystery for now. However, given the Unfolded Circle Remote Two's emphasis on privacy and its open-source nature, it's unlikely that Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant will be integrated. This focus on privacy ensures that the Unfolded Circle Remote Two stays true to its roots, while embracing innovation.
The Anticipated Launch of the Unfolded Circle Remote Two
The Unfolded Circle Remote Two, following in the footsteps of its predecessor, is set to launch on Kickstarter. While an exact date remains elusive, eager fans can expect it to arrive “this summer”. One question lingers in the air: Will the Unfolded Circle Remote Two continue to be available for purchase after the campaign concludes?
The original Unfolded Circle Remote Two's Kickstarter campaign served not only as a pre-sale platform, eliminating the need for excess inventory, but also as a litmus test for the product's appeal. Consequently, the remote could only be acquired during the campaign's active period. The hope is that, if demand proves sufficient, the Unfolded Circle Remote Two will enjoy a general release, ensuring that this innovative gadget reaches the hands of as many enthusiasts as possible.