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Numote prepares to launch 'social remote control' for iPhone, Android, and TV

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 1, 2010 07:05 AM

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I love the slogan for Numote, a new TV remote control technology launching this month: "Waste your time better." 

Founder Vijay Kailas finished up at Harvard's Graduate School of Design in 2008, and started developing the Numote concept shortly thereafter.

"We call it a social remote control for television," Kailas told me last week "It helps users find content to watch, interact with their friends, and get recommendations of shows they'll like." You can see what your other Numote-using friends are watching right now, and whether they love (or hate) a particular show that's coming up next. Numote also helps you find content related to a show online tapping into Ellen DeGeneres' Twitter feed, for instance, while watching her talk show.

One element of Numote is a mobile phone app that will be available for the iPhone and Android platforms sometime in March, Kailas says. (There will be both free and paid versions.) And in April, the company plans to start selling the second piece: a small set-top Bluetooth receiver (they call it "the pebble") which lets you use your phone to change channels. The pebble, designed by ex-IDEO staffer Gerd Schmieta, will sell for about $70. (See photo below.) "We plan to sell it through our own site, and several online retailers," Kailas says. 

"Right now, on your on-screen programming guide, you just get a blurb written by somebody who probably doesn't watch the show," Kailas says. "We're creating a community that explains the appeal of the show what people like and don't like. We're using your social graph to make recommendations, because most of the time, you discover great shows through your friends." Numote will tap into your existing network of friends using Facebook Connect.

The company has been funded so far by Kailas' friends and family, and an angel investment from David Rose, founder of Ambient Devices. The company doesn't have office space of its own yet, but is based in and around Central Square. (I mentioned them briefly in yesterday's Globe column on challenges facing start-up consumer electronics companies in Boston.)

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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