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Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

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Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

Old 10-20-04, 11:37 AM
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Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

http://www.nbc4.tv/news/3834983/deta...110202004&ts=H

Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

POSTED: 8:59 am EDT October 20, 2004

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Ticked off by the TV? Turn it off -- anywhere.

A new keychain gadget that lets people turn off most TVs -- anywhere from airports to restaurants -- is selling at a faster clip than expected.

"I thought there would just be a trickle, but we are swamped," the inventor, Mitch Altman of San Francisco, said. "I didn't know there were so many people who were into turning TV off."

Hundreds of orders for Altman's $14.99 TV-B-Gone gadget poured in Monday after the tiny remote control was announced in Wired magazine and other online media outlets. At times, the unexpected attention overloaded and crashed the Web site of his company, Cornfield Electronics.

The keychain fob works like a universal remote control - but one that only turns TVs on or off. With a zap of a button, the gizmo goes through a string of about 200 infrared codes that controls the power of about 1,000 television models. Altman said the majority of TVs should react within 17 seconds, though it takes a little more than a minute for the gizmo to emit all the trigger codes.

Altman, 47, first got the idea for TV-B-Gone a decade ago when he was out with friends at a restaurant and they found themselves all glued to the perched TV instead of talking to each other. No one was around to turn the TV off.

The self-described geek with a masters in electrical engineering started tinkering full-time on the project a few years ago with help from money he had earned from a company he co-founded, data-storage maker 3ware Inc.

Altman remembers spending most of his childhood unwittingly captivated by TV, watching shows like "Gilligan's Island" and others, regardless of whether they were entertaining.

He quit as an adult and hasn't owned a television in 24 years.

He has tested the TV-B-Gone remote discreetly in many places, including in other countries, and says he usually gets little to no reaction from others after the background TV noise and glare disappears.

But he said he would never dare silently kill the machines in places like sports bars, where patrons expect TVs to be on.

"I can be mischievous, but I'm not going to do anything malicious, and I don't want to make anyone's life more difficult," Altman said. "I just don't like TV, and I'd like people to think more about this powerful medium in their lives."


I can just imagine the hilarity if you are at a party and people are watching tv and you come by and keep turning it off! I'm going to have to start checking guests at the door to my parties!

Chris
Old 10-20-04, 11:41 AM
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someone at FW was talking about the fun they could have with it at best buy or circuit city
Old 10-20-04, 11:44 AM
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Originally posted by ScottyWH
someone at FW was talking about the fun they could have with it at best buy or circuit city
Even better!

Chris
Old 10-20-04, 11:49 AM
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I can just see them creating some sort of device to prevent remotes from working in a general area (if such a thing doesn't already exist..), or some sort of cover to put on tv's to block remotes from controlling it..
Old 10-20-04, 11:58 AM
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Yeah I agree with Pilot. But the keychain does sound fun.
Old 10-20-04, 12:03 PM
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is this guy related to Phil L.?
Old 10-20-04, 12:03 PM
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Originally posted by pilot
I can just see them creating some sort of device to prevent remotes from working in a general area (if such a thing doesn't already exist..), or some sort of cover to put on tv's to block remotes from controlling it..
Remote control Counter-Measures!

Chaff!Chaff!Chaff!
Old 10-20-04, 12:09 PM
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Re: Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

Originally posted by mrpayroll

The keychain fob works like a universal remote control - but one that only turns TVs on or off. With a zap of a button, the gizmo goes through a string of about 200 infrared codes that controls the power of about 1,000 television models.
If he can come up with something that will work on TV's, I wonder if something similar could be invented to work on auto garage door openers?

That could present a problem.
Old 10-20-04, 12:14 PM
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Originally posted by pilot
I can just see them creating some sort of device to prevent remotes from working in a general area (if such a thing doesn't already exist..), or some sort of cover to put on tv's to block remotes from controlling it..
The first idea is impossible, the second is not.
Old 10-20-04, 12:15 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
The first idea is impossible, the second is not.
they couldn't tape some sort of metal sheet (or something?) over the area where you point the remote to stop it from working?
Old 10-20-04, 12:17 PM
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Originally posted by pilot
they couldn't tape some sort of metal sheet (or something?) over the area where you point the remote to stop it from working?
That would be the second idea. The first idea (blocking remotes from working in a general area a la "Cell Phone Blockers") isn't possible, since it's just a beam of light.
Old 10-20-04, 12:23 PM
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Radio Shack sold a wristwatch years ago that operates the TV and VCR. I still have mine.. and although I have to tell the watch what brand of TV I want to use, it's basically the same thing. Not something super new and ingenious that you'd think a guy would have to work full time on developing...
Old 10-20-04, 12:24 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
That would be the second idea. The first idea (blocking remotes from working in a general area a la "Cell Phone Blockers") isn't possible, since it's just a beam of light.
blah I misread your original response..thought it said the first idea *was* possible and second was not.
Old 10-20-04, 12:25 PM
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There will be no all-volunteer army.
Old 10-20-04, 12:41 PM
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Re: Re: Universal Keychain Remote Turns Off Most TVs

Originally posted by Phil L.
If he can come up with something that will work on TV's, I wonder if something similar could be invented to work on auto garage door openers?

That could present a problem.
Note that this is going through ~200 IR codes. Things like garage door openers, car remotes, etc. typically operate off of random frequencies, and from numbers in the billions I believe.
Old 10-20-04, 12:49 PM
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Plus all new garage door openers are two way communications with the remote and they change the code every time it is used.
Old 10-20-04, 01:08 PM
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They were interviewing the inventor of this on NPR last night.

It sounds interesting, but I don't think I'll be buying one anytime soon. Now, if it had a feature where you could mute a TV instead of turn it off...
Old 10-20-04, 01:25 PM
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Originally posted by QuAcKeR
Radio Shack sold a wristwatch years ago that operates the TV and VCR. I still have mine.. and although I have to tell the watch what brand of TV I want to use, it's basically the same thing. Not something super new and ingenious that you'd think a guy would have to work full time on developing...
i had one of these around 10 years ago. I used to play some cool jokes on people with it.

Sit behind someone watching TV and start changing channels, turning it off, etc. Next thing they are beating their remote and think the TV is broke.
Old 10-20-04, 01:32 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
That would be the second idea. The first idea (blocking remotes from working in a general area a la "Cell Phone Blockers") isn't possible, since it's just a beam of light.
Actually all you would need to do is flood the area with enough IR light to drown out the offending remote. Ever try to use an IR remote control outdoors in full sunlight? It doesn't work.

Probably the best method would be to modulate a night-vision IR illuminator (which basically about 100 IR LEDs being driven full blast) with a 38khz signal. This will overload the receiver's front end and close down any AGC. Any remote signal that does get through will mix with the 38khz and become essentially useless.

YMMV.
Old 10-20-04, 01:35 PM
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Interesting! I never would have thought of that.
Old 10-20-04, 01:38 PM
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Originally posted by pilot
blah I misread your original response..thought it said the first idea *was* possible and second was not.
the FCC bans most devices. I would love to have a cell phone signal blocker in the restaurant I work in, but its very illegal
Old 10-20-04, 02:12 PM
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pilot

I can just see them creating some sort of device to prevent ...
It's called a handgun. Try to turn off my TV. I dare you.

Sersiouly, I have some remote control relays, and when there's enough background interference, and I have the signals too close to one another, I can negate my primary remote.

das
Old 10-20-04, 02:13 PM
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I think televisions are hardly a problem like cell phones are. I may get a jammer in the near future when I go to restaurants. Sure, it's illegal, but so are the prices at some of these restaurants and I want to eat in peace without some dumbass answering her neon glowing phone.
Old 10-20-04, 02:14 PM
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Originally posted by DVD Polizei
I think televisions are hardly a problem like cell phones are. I may get a jammer in the near future when I go to restaurants. Sure, it's illegal, but so are the prices at some of these restaurants and I want to eat in peace without some dumbass answering her neon glowing phone.
Tell your gf to turn off her phone while you're eating.
Old 10-20-04, 02:30 PM
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I'd love to have a portable cell phone jammer..even if the radius was small .. it'd be so neat to stand next to someone while they're blabbing away and all of a sudden they're cut off..

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