Hackaday Prize 2023: OMOTE Universal Remote

A good universal remote can help tame today’s complex home entertainment systems, combining both classic IR and more modern WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity with programmable functions that allow the user to execute multi-step operations with a single button. Unfortunately, programming them often involves the use of clunky proprietary software.

Which is why [Maximilian Kern] has developed the OMOTE. This open source universal remote is powered by the ESP32, and features the usual collection of physical buttons in addition to a 2.8” 320 x 240 touchscreen with a responsive graphical interface that can display more advanced user interfaces. Everything is packed into an ergonomic 3D printed case that gives it an exceptionally professional look.

The remote’s USB-C port can be used to recharge the internal 2,000 mAhA battery, as well as reprogram the ESP32’s firmware via a CH340C serial chip. The battery life is estimated to be about six months given the considerable low-power capabilities of the ESP32, which includes the use of a LIS3DH 3-axis accelerometer to keep the hardware in sleep mode until it’s picked up.

The software side is still in development, so the IR codes for the remote are currently hardcoded and its WiFi capabilities are limited to MQTT. But in the future, [Maximilian] imagines a web-based configuration interface that runs on the ESP32 and lets you add codes and setup the remote via your phone or desktop.

It looks like the hardware is more or less complete, so presumably the focus from here on out will be bringing the software across the finish line. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time — since it’s an entry into the Gearing Up challenge of the 2023 Hackaday Prize, the judges won’t pick the finalists until August 8th.

39 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2023: OMOTE Universal Remote

  1. It mentions Bluetooth several times but not how it’s used. Does this have code where it could act as a bluetooth remote for the devices that support that? Modern TVs, things like Fire stick, and so on?

      1. The reason I was asking was to see if and how it was being done in software as I hadn’t seen anything do that yet. Apparently the Expressif sdk does have support for the Bluetooth Audio-Video Remote Control Profile (avrcp), if I’m reading the documentation correctly. It’s all greek to me though. Or maybe the usual remotes use the HID version? It should support that. Either way, I haven’t found any examples of that sort of thing working and I’m curious.

  2. i need two, and like six for friends… if there are room, how about zwave and 433 mhz?

    amazing projects, as a hifi, movie and a bunch more geek remotes has been a constant problem, after the og xbox and xbmc transfer to linux and now kodi microsofts mce remotes has had a place on mine and my friends tables, but now am on my last one and the times of scavenging ebay of nos and buying a bunch is long gone… but this is amazing, i am going to follow this :)


    1. I was looking into actually building this, and services like pcbway have a minimum order of at least 5 units. So if you ever do decide to build one yourself you would likely have extra boards for friends or family.

  3. Why ESP32 there are plenty MCU’s which are more suitable for URC/LRC (learning remote controller)
    If I will choose MCU I will look for BT/Zigbee/BLE and ultra-low power consuption
    ESP32 has ULP co-processor but does it use it in this project. I bet NO…
    I have some remotes with learning feature and I may say LCD is there like 5th wheel for car…
    The best remote controller is model where you dont need look on it.
    easy remember key function, good button shapes, different rubber and
    no content dependent touch screen keypad. Permanent backlight disable feature
    its nothing more anoying when your batteries are lasting fast or reboot the remote
    becouse they are weak and backlight or beep produce Brown Out Reset (BOR) event :P
    Anf default setting after reboot is backlight on and sound beep ON any attempt go tu menu
    producing beep and backlight sucking more energy from weak baterries :P
    This is “reality” for CHUNGHOP products :P + low battery corrupting FLASH writes
    and RC with low batteries may lost your learned codes.. isn’t cool :P? (irony…)

    From this I suggest remotes without GraphicLCD with direct button for TV/SAT/VCR mode
    and not round-robin rotation, less devices with direct selection button is more valuable
    than 6 devices and single button.

    1. Actually having a touch screen on a universal remote is a great feature as it can change layouts per device or smart home function. Like brightness sliders for led lights, which this project specifically highlights in their screenshots. A customizable display offers unlimited potential in this application. Since you have a chip on your shoulder concerning the screen you should Just go buy a $10 ge programmable remote. Because it you’re not doing it with a customizable programmable screen, then all the work an effort to put into something thats already filling up landfills is a waste of time.

      1. Brilliant, but wireless charging would be a good idea more than a cable.
        My remotes mostly spend their time sitting on something rather than in my hand.
        Seems like a worthy addition.

  4. Can you mimic the very troublesome Comcast/Xfinity XR11 type RF remotes? Never mind the voice feature, it doesn’t work properly to start with. Mimicing just the buttons on the Xfinity remotes is plenty. The buttons on the XR11 remote keep wearing out. The replacement remote Comcast sent me for the XR11 is entirely different in design, the buttons are so stiff using them with my mildly arthritic fingers is a very painful experience over time. Xfinity doesn’t care if I can’t really use their X1 DOCSIS box because of bad remote design quality. The only thing Comca$t cares about is getting a big fat payment from me every month. I would drop Comcast in a heartbeat where I live (SE Florida) but the only competition is AT&T which is (hard to believe) far worse than greedy Comcast in comparison and Verizon 5G is like both where I have to rent a modem/Internet router box instead of using my own DOCSIS modem and Internet router like with Comcast/Xfinity, which puts bandwidth under my own firewalling and monitoring. This is absolutely unacceptable. Maybe hacking the Comcast/Xfinity RF remotes is possible? I doubt it and have never seen it done before. There is a thing called the model XR8 Xfinity Remote Aim Anywhere Pair Out OF Sight Adapter For XR2 / XR5 / XR11 Remotes, that plugs into the X1 box. It’s cheap but reviews are mixed, many say it doesn’t allow pairing remotes. Then there are Chinese clone XR11 type remotes. That’s a mixed bag as well in terms of (fake) remote quality looking at Ebay and Amazon reviews. Streaming is not an option due to data caps. My only ISP options are cable and wireless (5G) they both come with proprietary routers and draconian data caps and expensive overage fees. Sigh…

  5. It’ll need an IR blaster to be truly universal. These days we have an annoying combo of radio-based and IR remotes, and if your gear is in a closet or cabinet you need an IR blaster.

    1. Sounds like just the thing for another ESP32. Could even design it to have its own AP and allow you to reuse some old handheld gadget that isn’t able to connect to your modern WPA wireless network, but does have a Web browser.

        1. It needs to be physically at the TV/device not in your hand. The two would talk over (insert protocol here) and out would pop IR in the cabinet or room with the equipment in it

  6. Forgive my ignorance as I’m completely ignorant with regards to the hw/sw and their respective complexity, capabilities, functionality, or limitations. Which brings me to my question and the reason I’m posting.

    I’ve wondered about this since the late 70s and early 80s. Why no solar and what’s the deal with renotes, in particular universal ones don’t have and don’t seem interested. In speculating with friends things like require too much power for solar.

    From the late 70s to early 80s there have been a myriad of other things like calculators and watches. In fact the scientific calc i had in 80s in sure required more draw on the juice, no?

    I’m truly asking and don’t really have a clue about the tech.

    Thanks in advance for info, I’m looking forward to reading answers or potentially a debate.


    1. The bluetooth remote that came with the Samsung smart tv I bought last year actually has a solar panel on the back that can passively charge its battery. Assuming you can remember to lay it face down and you have the lights on. It also has a usb-c port on the bottom if it gets too low. But it’s been most of a year and I haven’t had to use that yet.

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