news - May 2020
Savant Remote X2
The story behind this revolutionary new remote control.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
— Hans Hofmann, noted abstract expressionist painter
WE RECENTLY CAUGHT UP WITH JC MURPHY, President of home automation innovation leader Savant, to talk about the backstory that led up to this past week’s formal announcement of a revolutionary remote control Savant will be shipping this summer. It’s a pretty slick interface and so we knew there had to have been a lot going on behind the scenes in order to bring the device to market.
Technology Designer: JC, thanks for giving us some time out of your busy schedule to talk about the Remote X2. Take us back to the beginning and how the project was developed.
JC Murphy: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to not only talk about the product, but about the why behind the product. Why we developed it and why it’s an incredible interface tool.
It all started about three years ago. A lot of us use the Savant technology in our own homes and so we have wrestled with remotes over the years and what we all really agreed on was that we didn’t want to develop a remote with 800 buttons. In fact, just the opposite. What would it be like to strip away every button and feature that you rarely use?
For instance, for guest bedrooms, what would it be like to have that remote do just one thing for your guests? Let’s say it turns on the TV. And so your guest picks up the remote and there is a simple, TV On graphic. They simply click the TV on and go to the streaming channel they like. They don’t get intimidated by a ton of buttons, they simply enjoy the technology.
For other family members, they might want to log in to a remote and see their set up, which might feature simple graphics that allow them to adjust lights, lower shades, change the temperature or even use voice control to turn on their favorite streaming audio service. So the remote is versatile, without any clutter.
TD: So you can personalize this remote?
JCM: Correct. The remote is software driven, so the user can adjust the look, the amount of control they want to have at their fingertips and create the actual user interface that works for them day in and day out.
TD: How did you vet your vision?
JCM: We started with 20 of our top dealers who are on our Advisory Council. These are technology design firms that range in size and vary in location around the country. We initially got some push back about limiting the complexity of the remote, but once they understood that we were actually trying to give homeowners more control with the least amount of headaches, they got on board.
We then talked with focus groups, which we ensured had at least 50 percent female input. We asked them what they use remotes for, what do they have to have and what can they live without.
We also talked with architects and designers in New York and Los Angeles, and from those folks we realized that the industrial design had to be front of mind, the product had to have the touch and feel of a luxury device, as well as that the remote had to be built like a tank. So you’ll notice the all-metal casing and the premium designer color options – Space Grey, Jet Black and Rose Gold – all work to deliver an elegant and intuitive user experience.
TD: Savant has led the way in voice control for many years. Tell us about privacy in regards to Siri voice activation.
JCM: Great question. When we talked to consumers who were very tech savvy, we became aware that a lot of them didn’t want any voice control devices in their homes because they didn’t want to be recorded; CEO’s, COO’s and others who take their privacy and security very seriously. So for the new Remote X2, you have to physically press a button to connect to Siri voice control.
TD: So the remote has been stripped of all unnecessary buttons and technobabble. But it’s still a pretty powerful interface, right?
JCM: That’s right. You can control not only your audio and video entertainment, but also lights, shades, climate and energy management. These are really the fundamentals that the homeowner would need to be able to interface with.
TD: So, here’s the next obvious question: what do you need in order to use this remote? What else do I need to buy or what services or what apps do I need to get going?
JCM: You would need to invest in our newest soundbar that is the host of the software. The soundbar is not only a great sounding audio device, but it has an embedded music streamer and built-in WiSA so you can broadcast your audio to other speakers around the house.
So one soundbar and as many remotes as you like.
TD: And this of course interacts with your Savant Home App. Tell our readers what the app is all about.
JCM: The Savant Home App sits on the Apple TV platform. So you can use your TV as your control device in lieu of a remote or a touch panel, etc. Since people are in front of their TVs a lot of the time, it only makes sense to give them the tools necessary to use the TV as your user interface. At the end of the day, we’re giving homeowners various ways to interact with their home when they want to make scene changes or see who’s at the front door. It’s all about intuitive user experiences.
TD: Final thoughts?
JCM: We’re proud to announce that a portion of the sales of the premium finishes Remote X2 will be donated to the Covid Relief fund.
TD: Thanks, JC.
JCM: My pleasure.