Neeo smart remote smashes $1.5m on Kickstarter

The universal remote of our dreams makes controlling the internet of things simple
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The Neeo smart home system and remote has just closed its insanely successful Kickstarter campaign, which ended on 12 February.

Over 6,000 backers have pledged a total of more than $1.5m to Neeo Inc in order to get their hands on the universal remote that knows who you are when you pick it up and controls over 30,000 gadgets, TVs and appliances.

Essential reading: The ultimate smart home of the future

Why would you want to? Well, the Internet of Things is amazing but messy. Different brands, different apps, different standards. Neeo is trying to simplify all that with a remote that cuts down the number of steps it takes to operate everything from Nest smart thermostats and Roku boxes to Sonos systems and Philips Hue light bulbs. It wants to take the pain out of the smart home by quickly and easily controlling every connected device you own, no matter who makes it.

The system comes in White Rabbit or Black Cat editions and consists of a Neeo brain and a Neeo remote. The brain is the circular, aluminium and acrylic glass bridge which houses antennas for Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread and 6LowPAN protocols. The aluminium and Gorilla Glass Neeo remote has a 291ppi display but according to Neeo is low power so that one charge will last for months on end.

Compatible with almost everything


Check out the FAQ section of the Kickstarter page for lists of the many, many TVs, media players, DVD/Blu-ray players, set top boxers, projectors it supports - it's not just new kit as Neeo claims it is compatible with all major AV devices from the last ten years. And that's the real beauty of the system. Panasonic, Apple TV, LG, Honeywell, Sony, WDTV, B&O, Yamaha, the list goes on. It's not exhaustive: for instance Sonos is the only wireless music system it's compatible with but it sure is comprehensive enough for most tech homes.

One neat trick is that Neeo allows you to set up scenarios - press the DVD icon and not only will your TV and DVD player turn on and play the DVD or Blu-ray but your smart light bulbs could dim and your Sonos system could pause the music you were listening to. Sounds like smart home magic to us.

Just the app


The burning question of course is why not just build an app? Neeo is compatible with iOS and Android but Neeo says that apps are still "too cumbersome for everyday use" and "there are certain qualities that apps can't deliver".

One of these is the patent-pending tech that recognises your hand when you pick it up using sensors in the remote. This means it can match your palm to your user profile to display film and music playlists and favourites. The hand recognition can also be used for parental controls and to enable guest modes. It's a great touch that means anyone with an older TV can get a slice of Smart TV action without the huge cost.

In fact, it is possible to buy the Neeo brain on its own to use with the iOS or Android app. This was still available to buy for just $148 on Kickstarter with the cheapest package including a remote now up to $219. Brain only will ship in April 2015 with the combos to follow in May. We'll let you know if Neeo decides to offer pre-orders on its website following the end of the Kickstarter campaign.

Since smashing through the $1m barrier, Neeo has announced that it has hit two stretch targets - a public API to open out the system even further and a Neeo IFTTT channel for advanced smart home tinkering. And as a final neat surprise just before the campaign closed, it also added support for Kodi (formerly XMBC media player) and Plex, two popular options for playing your own video libraries on the telly, plus Neeo announced it is uploading everything tinkerers need to add their own two way integration on geek community Github.


How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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