When One Screen Controls Another

In earlier posts, I’ve pondered on the rise of “dual screen” activity (e.g. Dual View Media Channels), but what about when one screen provides the control surface for another?

Earlier this week, the new release of the Apple Mac iWork office productivity suite included an announcement about an iPhone remote control app for Keynote (Keynote is the Mac equivalent of Microsoft’s Powerpoint presentation software). Here’s a demo video showing how it works:

I’d been looking for something like this for some time (and have been tempted to try out the free Telekinesis universal remote, though I’ve not had chance to get round to installing it yet) so it was good to see what Apple’s “official solution” looks like.

Whilst taking the dog out for a walk, it occurred to me that using an iPhone/iPod touch like remote could be really handy for many other home entertainment appliances – like the telly, for example. Want to know what’s on the other side without changing channel (or using a picture-in-picture pop up? Why not preview it on your remote? Or how about checking out the programme guide? It’s a real pain having to steal the screen to view the guide, so why not check it out on your remote instead? Programming the DVD/HDD recorder is another activity that prompts the “can I just set the video” routine, as you change to the ever popular “schedule recording” channel. Duh – why not just do it on the remote…? And so on…

Of course, it seems that several “screen remote” clients are already out there… like the Apple official “Remote” app for iTunes/Apple TV (review here), or the rather more elaborate Remote Buddy, as shown in this video:

And if “Remote Buddy” isn’t to your taste, how about iSofa (video):

(For an up-to-the-minute review of iSofa, check out Get Yer Feet Off iSofa; as well as “remote-ing” your Mac, iSofa lets you open “not a web browser, but a file one. It allows you to navigate your user directory on the computer, and open files that can be opened in Safari on the iThing- images, Word files, PDFs, etc” – thanks for that, Alan:-)

As ever, it seems as if the future really is out there… So for example, take that “EPG remote on an iPhone” idea? MythTV viewers can already try it out with MyMote:

Do you ever get the feeling you’re living in a William Gibson novel?

PS thanks to Owen for the pointer to Air Mouse (use your iPodTouch as a mouse’n’keyboard combo for your Mac), and @oxfordben for a “fwiw” pointer to the MythWeb web interface to MythTV.

PPS See also Steps Towards Making Augmented Reality A Reality, which shows how to use an iPhone/iPodTouch as part of an augmented reality setup:-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

4 thoughts on “When One Screen Controls Another”

  1. I’ve used the expensive-but-worth-it Jaadu VNC (and for Windows users, Jaadu RDP) to remote-control various machines, including the 9-screen video wall in the Jennie Lee building. It works flawlessly – so well that in some cases it’s actually superior to many of the task-specific remote applications you’ve mentioned. Not always – for example the Keynote remote works really well – but for sheer flexibility Jaadu can’t be beat.

    There are other VNC and RDP apps, but the user interface of Jaadu is near perfect, and it’s just great to use – it avoids or compensates very smoothly for the limitations of the iPhone’s small screen.

    Well worth a look.

  2. @jeffrey thanks for the pointer; the Jaadu demos videos illustrate remote control [ http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=P-yXi2HRzgc ] (e.g. of Front Row) and remote screen manipulation [ http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=yZY0HowIhaI ] really well.

    That said, what I was thinking about was less of the use of the iWhatever as a direct manipulation controller of what’s on the other screen/UI elements on the other screen, and more as a device that offers access to UI elements that don’t necessarily relate to what’s currently on the screen; so e.g. using the remote to programme the DVD, or check the EPG, without having to hijack the primary screen.

    In the case of the Keynote/presentation app, the attractive thing there is the ability to get a presenter view, and see next/previous slides, as well as slide notes, (views which are NOT displayed on the main screen) as well as the ability to control the main screen presentation.

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