This is the first blog post of the many we are planning to post to share the story of Remote Two. We have been working on Remote Two for a while now and we would like to share how we got here with you.

We started working on Remote Two less than a year ago, after realising that most of the people, who backed the DIY version 1, would just like to use the remote and not necessarily want to touch any code to set it up. Version 1 was a DIY kit, but looked like there was a need for a complete and user friendly product. So in the middle of the pandemic, we embarked on an exciting journey to create a forward looking version: Remote Two.

Improving on version 1

One of the biggest drawbacks of version 1 was battery life. The Raspberry Pi is a great, little, capable device, but the lack of standby mode made it impossible to achieve more than 14 hours of battery life. So we started looking at various SOCs and evaluated a few to find one that delivers on performance while provides a very low power consumption in standby. This was a very important step for us. After we found the right chip, we ported the existing remote software to test the performance and see how the user experience would look like. We got satisfying results, we were happy and moved on to the next step.

Early days of prototyping: testing various ICs to control the buttons

We wanted to create a device that is future proof. A remote that has all the hardware components to create the best experience. Even if it's not fully taken advantage in the early days, we can add features in software, but not in hardware. We have carefully chosen the components to make sure we keep power consumption low, but not compromising on capabilities. We had a list: OLED display, backlit buttons, microphone, speaker, accelerometer, ambient light sensor and haptic motor. Researching, testing and finally choosing the right components took a while, but we ended up with something that works really well.

Coming up with a design

From day one, design was one of our top priorities. Not just to create a product that looks good, but also functions well. We were looking for a common thread that can run across the product and user interface design. Fortunately, we didn't have to look anywhere else to find it: it's in our name: YIO. Your Input Output. A device that can connect to various platforms and services and provide a unified interface. Translating between APIs, making everything fit together. And that was it! Our common thread became the idea of transformation. We wanted to capture this idea in a very simple and subtle way that works in space as well as on the screen. Transforming a circle into a square was the simplest way to visualise our idea. And this became the leading principal in the design of Remote Two. The remote transforms from a round soft shape on the bottom to a more straight object holding the display on the top. This design is not just a nice take on our idea, but also makes the remote more comfortable to hold and easier to pick up from a table.

Our design idea of transformation spans across product and ui design

This thread runs through the UI design as well. The main screen works with straight, rectangular shapes, but as soon as you drill down to gain more granular control over devices, you see rounded corners and softer components.

Another important aspect of the new UI was to exploit the OLED display. With OLED, pixels light up individually, so we mainly use black backgrounds to help reducing power consumption. This also makes it possible to seamlessly integrate the screen into the glass surface, blurring the border between the edge of the panel and the glass touch overlay.

Prototyping with manufacturability in mind

We started sourcing and working with manufacturing partners early on in the design process, to make sure we're creating something that is manufacturable and designed for optimised production. We had the core shape of the remote from the very beginning, but it went through a lot of small adjustments. We have been constantly improving how the components fit together, thus also improving the assembly process.

One of the most difficult parts was to design a button assembly that has the right feel and fits within the shallow space we had. Maybe it is worth a separate blog post by itself 🙂 All I can say is that we are really happy how the buttons turned out. I hope you'll agree!

From 3D printed models to functional prototypes

Currently we have working prototypes with 95% close to final parts, that we have been testing basic functionality on. From now on, we are shifting to the software part of things. However there's a lot more to do. We hope with these blog series, you'll get a glimpse into getting YIO Remote Two realised.

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