Hardbutton remote

I know this topic has been discussed before, but I still would very much like to have a remote with actual hard buttons. Until that time the wife acceptance factor is going to be zero. I read the thread about the launchport device with buttons. It was almost what I needed. If it had a few (2 or 3) more buttons, wasn’t so expensive, and was still a product it would do the job. I understand I can interface game controllers but they just have a bunch of buttons with cryptic icons that would have no relation to channel up/down, volume up/down etc. I would like to purchase an actual universal IR remote and have it control my roomie / simple control devices - just the TV and audio would suffice. I have an ISY 994ir in the system so it could conceivably receive the IR codes and then process them. Has anyone had any experience in getting something like this working? Does anyone have any other suggestions?


I would really like this too. Or at least simple control/roomie could open up an API to send requests to its agent to trigger individual commands. If this existed, then supporting most hard button remotes would be possible. Right now, the only way to do it is to set up an activity for every single command, which is not really practical.

I know it is at least technically possible for Simple Control to allow for individual commands to be triggered from the agent because that is presumably how the remote access functionality works. Perhaps that is in the works? I don’t know. Maybe someone from SimpleControl could comment?

If SimpleControl doesn’t want to provide the details. I could also just reverse engineer the remote access protocol, which is likely not too difficult to do (although I haven’t looked at it yet). But I don’t want to waste my time doing that if SimpleControl is going to thwart my efforts or not condone them.

Hardbutton remotes:

Still a generally interesting concept. We’ve explored some options. Nothing has really come to the forefront yet. When I look at solutions in this space, I’m not yet compelled by any of them. Not that it would cause us to stop looking into this, but my own feeling here is that this decreases about 10% a year in demand. It used to be pretty often people would approach us about this. At CEDIA last month, I encountered exactly one person the entire show with this request. So it’s plummeted as the power of touchpad remotes has basically just rolled over hardbutton remotes. Gesture Panels took us a long way toward the goal, but conversely the lack of a Media Guide is becoming a huge issue there. Anyway, yes, still interested in providing a solution here, but this is a rapidly shrinking market segment.

Command/Device HTTP API:

This is coming actually. We’re building it for an unannounced third party product anyway, so it will be available in a generalized form in not too long.

Thank you.

I have the same “wife/non-techie guests” acceptive factor.

In lieu of ISY-99, I have Indigo server on a Mac mini. I use several Insteon RF Mini remotes for lighting, might be worth considering as a hard remote for Simple Control Actions.

I think CEDIA is not a neutral venue for validation. Many installers/dealers are techie and may not represent the true consumer. After all, these are the guys that love Crestron and Control 4 and still want to charge $500 “programming fee” to change a “favorites” button. In the past, they charged $1000 to $2000 for a proprietary, sluggish, piece-of-junk touch pad. Now they are a little smarter - they let you bring your own iPad and then simply charge you a $1000 “licensing fee” to use it with their system!

A much better example is to look at the new Apple Remote for the Apple TV 4th gen. Although it now has a touchpad, significant attention was given to the “hard” buttons, and unlike the earlier remote, it has built-in hard buttons for “Volume up / volume down”.

If Apple could have found a way to eliminate all the buttons and go with a touchpad only remote, I’m sure they would have done that. Obviously, they know that consumers still want some hard buttons on their remote.

Awesome. I’ve been really wanting this. A remote app with an open API like that would literally be the first of its kind, and something I would really really be appreciative of. The only thing that comes close is potentially Neeo, but that’s not even out yet, and I have my doubts about the API or whether it will every be released

Right now, I’ve built custom python scripts that run on an rpi to control all of my devices with a tivo remote. It works pretty well, especially when I use it in conjunction with SimpleControl for more complicated tasks. I would love to have everything to run through SimpleControl though, so everything syncs nice and easy.

This would be great, any updates on that physical remote?

This subject is discussed in a recent podcast interview with Will Price, here thedigitalmediazone.com/2016 … me-on-079/

At about 30 minutes in Will discusses hard-button controls, including game controllers, iPort, and hints at an upcoming IR-input solution that could interpret IR commands from any existing handheld remote in the “relatively near future”.

Insteon has a device ( insteon.com/irlinc-receiver ) that might be worth playing around with.

Excellent Podcast.

Mentions that two other pathways coming:

  1. Taking input from IR, and letting you use any remote you want … coming soon.
  2. It’s still a secret.

WAF is important here :grinning: Family acceptance would be higher if users could still use the old-familiar Harmony if they wanted to while just controlling the Home Theater. Right now, it’s pretty much only one-or-the-other. If using both IR and Simple-Control concurrently, things easily get out-of-sync.

The Comparison Chart on https://www.simplecontrol.com/the-simple-comparison/ is listing this: Hardbutton Remote Options: 3rd party hardware (iOS game controllers, Pico remote, LaunchPort).

  1. Does that mean I can now use the Lutron Pico remote as hard button controller to trigger an activity and / or trigger a button press?
  2. If yes, does this work via Apple homekit?

Lutron Pico controls us via triggers from a Lutron controller such as Radio RA 2, etc.

Thanks Will.

Voila, we can use the Lutron Pico (along with any Lutron controller) as a programmable 5 button remote. Or we can use two Picos if we need 10 buttons. Should be easy to print stick on labels with symbols, e.g. on Avery sticky labels.

I think SimpleControl should advertise that more visibly as a hardbutton option.
I for one will be happy with 5 buttons and run everything else on the iPhone/iPad.

The launchport would be nice to control volume and play/pause. How would one integrate this with simple control if the current smart bridge pro is integrated using homekit as Picos do not show up in homekit.


Radio RA 2 and Homeworks etc integrate directly. There is no need for HomeKit with such products. The LaunchPort is its own Pico and we integrate with that via those Lutron products. Meanwhile, the SurfaceMount is a direct integration. It is not imitating a Pico, so nothing else is required to integrate.

Any update on the above? Would really be a great feature to have if we could use existing hard remotes as well.

Thanks! But I would like to integrate the rest of my lights blinds (I have 2 smart hubs due to Lutron’s 50 device limit.) using homekit. Can simple control control only the pico on the launch port directly via the hub and control the rest of the devices via homekit?

Sounds possible. As with anything Caséta pre-HomeKit, you’d need to figure out the device ID and button number from the manual manifest the device gives you in order to configure a device trigger for Button Press status.

Any update on the above? Would really be a great feature to have if we could use existing hard remotes as well.

That path we investigated a year or two ago did not pan out, yet anyway. We’re looking at a different and better path. No timeline atm.

iOS game controllers are also compatible:

Wait? MFI controllers are compatible now or will be when the planned update is available?



MFi controllers have been compatible for several years. The buttons on any MFi controller are mapped to the current Action Panel or Virtual Remote automatically.

OK. I’ve searched all over. Is there someway to map or remap what the buttons on the MFi controller correspond to on the SimpleControl app. For example, I have the SteelSeries Nimbus. The rocker switch is automatically mapped to the cursor directions. That makes sense. But the menu button is mapped to pause ! “A” is select. “B” is back. Most of the other buttons and joysticks seemed to be mapped to nothing.

What limited documentation there is, it seems that only the automatic mapping above is available. But I found one post by “SC Admin” in the archives here that implies that there is a remapping capability.

Can anyone help?

So I played around a little more. I remembered that the old SimpleHome app shows the names of the buttons as they’re pushed at the top of the display in a 3 line scroll. So I was able to see what the Nimbus are actually sending. Besides the rocker cursor directions buttons, here are the buttons that are working:
X=Live TV
A=Cursor Enter

That’s it. Interesting in 4.5, the Menu button seems to send nothing and do nothing. But forward and reverse work. In 5.0, forward and reverse do nothing, while Menu seems to be pause.

Very strange.