Technically not announced yet, Gear4 showed Pocket-lint a glimpse of its Unity control system at the John Lewis Christmas in July event, which could be about to revolutionise the universal remote market.
For starters, it's not an actual remote control. Well, not as such. It's a small, cylindrical device that shoots out multiple infra-red signals from its many internal LEDs, giving a 360 degree blast that is bound to hit IR-controlled kit in a room. And, as it runs off batteries, it can be placed pretty much anywhere. But then, so could a general controller.
The interesting part, however, is that it syncs to an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad via Bluetooth, and combines with a free app downloadable via iTunes, turning the Apple device(s) into universal remotes. Only one device can be linked at the same time, but you can install the software on multiple units, syncing each as and when needed.
The Unity hardware comes with tens of thousands of equipment codesets pre-installed on an internal chip, but you can also get it to learn commands from conventional remotes, if it can't find the specific bit of kit. And the app comes with a massive database, so that you only need to tell it what equipment you own.
Of course, there are plenty of other intelligent iPhone-based universal remote controls out there, but this is the first one we've seen that doesn't require anything to be plugged into the handset itself. And Gear4 ensures us that the iPad version of the app will eventually grow to take advantage of the screen's extra real estate, rather than just be an expansion of the iPhone one.
Price will be around £100 for the device (the app is free) and release date details are forthcoming. John Lewis, the UK store, is keen to stress that it will be offering discounts on the Gear4 Unity for buyers of new TVs in the near future, we'll let you know when we get further information.