back to article Philips waves farewell to point-and-press remote controls

The traditional infra-red remote control is dead. Long live, Philips’ latest spin on channel-switching technology - uWand. Described as a “remote touch pointer”, uWand allows couch potatoes to control the telly using physical gestures. remote_control_01 Philips' uWand: button pushes out, gestures in Inside uWand is a …


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  1. Cameron Colley

    Sounds like a pain in the arse.

    What next, "gesture based" keyboards for PCs? You could imagine you're writing hte words in the air in front of your PC, would be so much more efficient, eh? How about a "gesture based phone"? You could waggle the thing around in the street to dial numbers -- how cool!

    Fair enough, if you want some clever "flick motion" to enable you to change to the next channel then have it -- but getting rid of the buttons is plain stupid.

    With a remote you can change to any channel, or flip channels, using either hand with very little movement -- having to learn how to write an imaginary letter in the air to change channels directly, rather than just typing a number, would be a pain in the arse.

  2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    A slight paradox?

    OK, so the remote control cannot keep up with modern components because it requires 50 buttons to do so?

    How is this device, which would presumably require the poor user to remember 50 gestures, going to fix the problem?

    The only way I can think of is to require the device to have a GUI, which might make things more complicated than they are.

  3. Rosco

    Bloody Idiots

    First of all, gestures are a lot less efficient than buttons for discrete actions like changing the channel. Compare repeatedly moving the tip of your thumb an eight of an inch to repeatedly moving your entire hand several inches. Gestures are good for non-discrete actions such as a simulated tennis stroke.

    Secondly: “The traditional remote control, with its 50 or more buttons, simply isn’t keeping pace with modern interactive television.” Do they propose replacing 50 buttons with 50 gestures to be memorised from the manual?

    Damned tech bandwagons.

  4. Lionel Baden


    i like my standard control thnx !!

    try creating better menus you prats !!!

    Almost everything can be done by pressing menu up down left right ok back nowadays

  5. Bernie 2


    “as if they were actually touching them”, Philips claimed.

    Touching who?

    It's not the number of buttons that chaps my ass, it's the speed (or lack thereof) with which the average TV set responds to controls these days.

    You always have to wait a good few seconds for it to turn on or change the channel, when your show is about to start it feels like a good few minutes. Press the wrong button by accident and you're inconvenience for twice as long.

    Why couldn't they fix that problem rather than slavishly copying the Wiimote?

    Even CRTs can warm up before LCDs seem to be able to "boot up", and both of the big screen TVs in my house have actually crashed at some point. Do they run Windows?

  6. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Douglas Adams was right

    Many years ago Adams wrote about a remote control system that involved gesturing at the radio to change channels. The only problem being that you had to sit infuriatingly still when listening to the radio.

    So what happens when this gadget is on the sofa and somebody sits down next to it? What happens when you knock it off the arm of the chair?

    This really is technology for the sake of technology isn't it? We have something that works really well, so why change it?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I guess it will make a change

    Waving a remote at the telly will make a change from flinging it at the telly when yet another load of shite masquerading as entertainment pitches up on our screens Down Under.

  8. Stef 4
    Thumb Down


    Why is this necessary? Feels like a giant step back. Instead of pressing a simple button, I now have to make the sign of the cross, using ever more precise gestures that further I am from the screen?

  9. LuMan

    So...'ll automatically tune to Jeremy Kyle every time I scratch my arse?

  10. Tristan Young
    Thumb Down

    No Thank You!

    If I can't use my universal remote control with the TV, then the TV will not be part of my consideration.

    I do not want gesture-based remote controls.

    Sony screwed up their PS3 by adopting a Bluetooth remote control and not having backwards compatibility with IR remote controls. I can see Phillips making the same mistake.

    This could be problematic for people that don't have the use of hands and rely on being able to press buttons by other means - feet, mouth stick, etc. This would be a step backwards for that segment of the population.

  11. Andy Taylor

    Wiimote anyone?

    Looks a familiar concept but with less likelihood ofsmashing your screen.

  12. David S

    Seen this somewhere before.

    Um. That's a Wii remote, isn't it? I mean, this isn't exactly new...

  13. Rod MacLean

    Oh really?

    Well, it's going to be ultra useful when you try to type in the security code to watch a movie on your cable box. So on that score, it's already a fail.

    Typing in page numbers on Teletext might prove a little difficult as well...

  14. Donal Gavin
    Paris Hilton

    Thinking a bit too far out of the box?

    I never had a problem using my remote control. dont fancy having to wave this "wand" around just to turn the volume up. with i can do the same thing by sitting still and pressing one button.

  15. Liam Pennington

    Men Of Habit

    Just want to flick to and from Top Gear on Dave to Sky Sports News. If this makes it easier, fine.

  16. Craig 29


    Am I the only one that fails to see the point in this?

  17. Stevie


    I predict a rash of repetitive strain injuries, wrist sprains and remotes hurled through the TV, just like when the Wii was first sold.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old people?

    I can see the old and infirm are just going to love this....

  19. Jason Bloomberg

    TelevisionX et al

    Hmm. Up-down, change channels. Two alternating doses of pr0n for one's climactic viewing pleasure.

    Mine's the one with an elasticated wrist band in the pocket.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repetitive Motions?

    Constant channel-changing when watching porn? No thanks.

  21. Andrew Bush


    Some companies release utterly pointless information like this on new 'innovations' just to keep their brand up in the air.

    What a load of crap.

  22. ilovemynips

    LOL @ LuMan

    It is a stupid idea though...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How many shakes of an hand would it take to get to the personal ads on teletext?

    And once you've got there would you need them anymore?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I think they missed the point a bit on this one!

    “The traditional remote control, with its 50 or more buttons, simply isn’t keeping pace with modern interactive television.”

    But in what way is the uwand interacting with the televsion other than forwarding the standard commands of your 50 button remote in an overly complicated way via a sensor bar attached to your telly.

    There is a reason that the wii controller is only suited to the wii console - it pants at the kinda of task a standard remote control is used for!

    Universal programmable touch screen remotes have sorted out the too many remotes / too many buttons issue.

  25. Skizz

    You can tell...

    ...this idea has been led by marketing, they've used an olive-skinned curly haired woman to demonstrate it because 'it relates the the widest possible demographic'. In reality, think 'Royale Family'*. You can imagine the thought process. Marketing chimp buys a Wii, thinks, hey, this is cool, you could wave something like it change channels on the TV. Of course, the big problem is that I use my V+ box to select the channel to watch, I hardly ever use the TV remote.

    I wonder what guestures they'll have:

    Increase/decrease volume - point at ear and flick up/down

    Find porn channels - wave control up and down vigoursly

    'Oh my God, it's Jamie Oliver, quick change the channel' - throw control at screen


    * It would be much better to have a Jim Royale character on a sofa with the slogan: "fat slobs need exercise, get a 0.5kg remote to workout those arm muscles"

  26. Citizen Kaned


    @ Tristan Young

    i *think* the ps3 does have some IR remotes. not sony but ive seen some ones with IR dongles so there must be. i love my ps3 remote as i can use it anywhere in the house, even outside. which is cool as i have speakers all over the place so outside i can chill and listen to music! i really hate IR remotes now as im so used to pressing a button and not needing to point it at anything. now, if it all goes BTooth i will get an all in one BT remote :)

    and as someone above states i just want my devices to be more speedy. old virgin box; channels change immediately. new V+ box seems to take about 3 secs to change a channel. now you browse all 1000 channels! i give up about #200!

  27. Paul 128

    So what about ... 83 year old father in law, who has advanced Parkinsons which makes it incredibly frustrating for him to use a computer due to hand shakes, and only just manages with a normal remote because it allows him to steady his hand on something while using it? He's bad enough with standard buttons, with something like this he'd never manage to switch the TV on let alone tell it what channel to switch to!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...and I bet you'll still roll the batteries to squeeze a few more goes out of a dead set!!!

  29. spam 1

    Oh dear

    I am reminded of a tale from one of the founders of id software. When they were developing Doom (or maybe Quake) using a pain mouse and WASD keyboard almost every day someone sent them their revolutionary new joystick/gamepad/trackball/glove/whatever controller that was going to take over the world. Every day they would try the new controller for no more than 5 minutes before unplugging it and throwing it at the wall.

    Yes remotes with a zillion buttons are effing awful. If you going to make what you are controlling interactive and context sensitive so you can control it with a handful of gestures then you could control it with a handful of buttons.

    I have done complete user interfaces with a single 4 way joystick, for use in darkrooms where you can't see anything but a dim LCD display in the bottom of a hole.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Business case

    TV remotes cost around $0.50. Who on earth is going to pay to have this ?

    I already have a Wii sensor bar on my TV and I'm sure when it's in mass production (and hence cheaper) the new XBOX360 controller. I don't want any more clutter.

  31. B3vil


    How often have you been playing on a Wii and thinking 'it would have been easier with a button' but forgiven it because it was a bit different and innovative and was a game after all, and every time I'm on the home screen I just want to use the buttons to move around, but I can't.

    Now force people to do this on something that's not a game. For every basic operation.

    Oh, and I hope they come with wriststraps, and that there is a warning every time you turn the TV on......

  32. Chris C

    Egads, Brain!

    "Navin Natoewal, General Manager for uWand at Philips, said: 'The traditional remote control, with its 50 or more buttons, simply isn’t keeping pace with modern interactive television.'"

    Oh, sure, help those people who have to deal with a fifty-button remote control. What about me? When will you help me? I'm being forced to use a keyboard that has ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR buttons to type this message! That's too complicated!!

    On a more serious note, Philips obviously overlooked the basics. Specifically, people throwing in a porn DVD and masturbating (will the volume keep going up and down?). Also at issue will be sports fans. You know the type -- people who look normal most of the time, but when they're watching their favorite team, they're on the edge of their seat, jumping up and down, clapping, screaming, high-fiving everyone around them -- basically looking like someone who needs to be committed (I'll leave that judgment to the professionals).

    I'd love to know what the thought process was behind this thing. Channels and volume both go up and down, so how will those "gestures" differ? Will there be a microphone built into the device, and you have to shout to get louder volume and whisper for quieter volume? Back in 1994, a comedienne made note of how people were too stupid to program their VCR, so VCR+ was created and you just typed in the code for the program, but people were still too stupid to figure that out. And now Philips thinks people are smart enough to remember 50+ "gestures" instead of using clearly-labeled and easy-to-find-and-use buttons? I can imagine one or two gestures people might use (specifically, the single/double-finger salute), but that's about it.

    This thing has "failure" written all over it. It really makes you wonder how Philips and Sony managed to create the Compact Disc.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Gesture? I'll give them a gesture

    The icon's almost right, but it shouldn't be a thumb.

  34. Tom 35
    Thumb Down

    try creating better menus you prats !!!

    If you need the manual to find something in the menu, you fail. Double fail if the manual is no help and you have to poke around for ages to find what you want.

    I have a DVD player with two "setup" screens. One right at the root of the menu. But if you want to set it to output 16x9 or set the audio output to bitstream you need the second setup screen, that one is two layers down and only appears if you don't have a disc in the player.

    I have a gesture for whoever created that menu layout...

  35. Jonski

    So, you're cuddled with your missus

    on the sofa and she's gone to sleep because you're watching the F1 and she wanted to watch Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall with his homies instead and the cat is intermingled amongst it all. You realise that the gentle snoring is indicative of something and go to turn the volume down...

    I can't see this scenario ending happily with a remote like that.

  36. Steve 137
    Thumb Down

    A solution in search of a problem

    I can't think of anyone who has said they wish they didn't have all these buttons on their remote.

    As it is you will only typically use a handful of those buttons.

    In a later upgrade they will have you saying incantations while making the gestures.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Since it's such a good idea...

    Boffins at BMW have announced a new Sports Series Model in which the bulky steering wheel has been replaced with biometric gloves. The driver simply gestures a command, and the BMW responds immediately. Orville Nerddorffer, head of the new biometric steering project at BMW, has not made any press releases since the "incident" last April.

    Preliminary tests of the new BMW navigation system had halted in April due to an accident. A 17 year old boy from New Westshire had entered the test area, and was making rude gestures toward the test car driver. The driver playfully flipped the bird back to the youth, when the BMW interpreted the gesture incorrectly, and immediately ran over the young man. His name was not released, at the family's request.

    After reconstructing the incident, the BMW investigation revealed the problem was in the programming. The software programming team had inserted additional code into the system's gesture response system during virtual software testing, as a "fun deathrace arcade game response module for killing virtual pedestrians GTA-style. It was meant to be removed before the software was installed in the real vehicles". The test car driver, Alex "Toast" Crutchfield, was cleared of all responsibility in the recent tragedy.


    Hey, it could happen !


    Next on the news, a local cigar store admits having Prince Albert in a can, and refuses to let him out. Story at 11.

  38. Steve Roper

    Use the Force, Luke

    You don't need to see this channel. This isn't the show you're looking for.

  39. Darren Lovell

    What about those who injure themselves using it?

    Will they be called "Philtards"?

  40. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Chris C.

    "....masturbating (will the volume keep going up and down?). "

    Presumably only if your dick is flat, made of black plastic and has "Philips" written on it.....

  41. Jon H
    Thumb Down

    Not practical

    So, I'm lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep while watching TV, the loud adverts come on and instead of just pressing the volume button of the remote that's sitting in my hand (barely using any effort at all), I've got to start waving this thing around in the air like an idiot? Oh yeah, that will really help me fall asleep!!!

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