Remote controls are one of the modern inventions of our time that have gotten more and more unwieldy as the years go by. They’re easy to break or misplace, and often times have convoluted controls. Puck is a new invention by the software developer SmashToast, that seeks to put an end to remotes by utilizing mobile technology.
“How it works is you stick to the Puck to a receiver in your home, like your television,” explained Barnabas Helmy, the CEO and co-founder of SmashToast. “You then connect it to your phone using Bluetooth, and you have all the options of a remote on your phone.” The product presents the option to bookmark channels, as well as control multiple devices from just your phone. “It works for anything that you can control with an infra-red remote.”
Helmy devised the idea while brain-storming with co-founder and friend Andrew Brown. The two were initially working out of the Chicago area from Springfield, Illinois. After receiving a 2015 Arch Grant in June, SmashToast moved its operation to St. Louis. Helmy has been working on the product full time and has been collecting funding from multiple sources, including an IndieGoGo campaign.
Helmy and Brown are working on beta-testing Puck, and currently have prototypes being tested in 32 countries and 12 states. Helmy predicts marketing mainly to bars and restaurants as such establishments often have more than one television. “I’ve worked in a lot of bars and restaurants, and if you could control that system with just the touch of a button; who wouldn’t love that?”
Right now SmashToast’s main goal is to make the Puck as simple to use as possible. “The challenge for us is making it so simple that people would much rather grab their phone than their remote,” Helmy explained. “We’ve been focusing on beta-testing with people who will use the product, because when we hit the market we want to make a strong positive impression. Arch Grants has really helped us with that.”
If beta-testing goes well the Puck should be ready to launch by November. “Everything is ready,” said Helmy. “It is exciting. Everyone here can attest to the challenges faced by startups, but this I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
Check out a Mini Interview with Barnabas Helmy.