iPhone Remote Control

On March 1, 2011, in Electronics, by Vlad Cazan

Ever since the iPhone came out, I really wished they included an IR emitter inside so that developers could write apps for universal remotes for all sorts of things. Since they do not, I have finally figured out a way to use your iPhone as a universal remote.

Since the iPhone only has the 32 pin dock connector and a headphone jack, it is kind of hard to connect any external hardware to the iPhone. The dock connector is almost impossible to access through the iOS api, so it was the headphone jack that I had to use. From my lesions in media tech theory I knew that audio was electricity and I knew that the signal from universal remotes are a simple waveform I was able to use audio files to act as different buttons on a remote control.

Here are some pictures of my remote headphone jack I made from two old IR leds and an old headphone jack. Total project build: $0

Using this simple HTML 5 app, the appropriate sounds play when the buttons are pressed.

I made a video to show that the power from the headphone jack is powerful enough to turn on two IR leds:

iPhone Remote Demo

Click To Play


9 Responses to “iPhone Remote Control”

  1. nick says:

    hey Vlad, you’re so rad man, I’ve wanted to do the same thing for a long time. In fact when Mitch Altman came through the Site3.ca labs I went there and built one of his TV-B-Gone kits and had a LOT of fun with it at a major tradeshow over the summer.

    • Vlad Cazan says:

      Haha I have one! Love going to future shop. First the Sonys shut off then panasonic then toshiba all in order lol

      First kit I ever bought, although this is much easier to build. Literally ripped open a pair of headphones and stole an ir from an old stereo remote. And then just generate the wav files.

  2. Tom says:

    Hi Vlad,

    have no success with this tutorial. can you explain how do you connect the IR-Transmitter to the output? Seems both together with ground-pin and Vin to each channel from iphone-jack?

    Is the website with your webapp still available to test?


    • Vlad Cazan says:

      Look at the picture bellow for wiring. 🙂

      As for the webapp, you can visit: http://remote.rtfms.com/ on your iPhone.

      Let me know if theres anything you need.

      • Tom says:

        Thanks for reply, but

        “and then the + to one of the inputs.”

        you mean the outputs, i thought… left or right. Normally i understand that the audio output is AC, so it should make no sense where you connect +/- of the IR, right? 😉

        so… my IR still not flashing (test it with an receiver on my Mic-Input from my Mac 😉


  3. Francisco says:

    Hello Vlad,

    Will this work in a pda or it’s only intended for an iPhone? I have a mobile + pda which has no infrared port and I’m looking for a device like Griffin Total Remote (its device uses the same concept, they created an ir device using the existing mini jack 3,5mm port (I can’t buy of them as this product has been discontinued))

    As far as I know, the signals are the same as both devices are using the mini jack port, but I’m not 100% sure about this neither if I have to use a resistor between the jack and the ir leds.

    Any help regarding this point will be welcomed.
    Thank you very much in advance… And of course, great work, congratulations !!!

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