Tomorrow never dies

A new remote control unit turns off any TV anytime, anywhere. And Dave Wilson is worried.


‘If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners’ – Johnny Carson.


In this modern age, it’s impossible to enjoy a quiet lemonade in any local hostelry without being bombarded with images from the Carver Media Group (Surely, Sky Sports? – Ed.). No matter whether the sound is on or off, the idiot box keeps us permanently up to date with rolling news, rolling sports, and rock and roll.



Sadly, rather than embracing the benefits of this all-pervasive media, there are some folks who seem intent on spoiling the fun. Take Mitch Altman, CEO of the US firm Cornfield Electronics, for example. He’s so keen on the idea of turning off TVs, that he’s invented a device that will do it for us – no matter what TV we want turned off, or where we are in the world.



Called TV-B-Gone, his Universal Remote Control (URC) is very much like any other TV remote control. But while a normal TV URC simply controls the functions of a make and model of a TV that you program it to, the TV-B-Gone is much simpler. It only controls one function: Power. And it controls that function by emitting the Infra-Red Power Off Code for virtually all television makes and models.



The device, which is so small it can hang off a keychain, takes about 69 seconds to emit Power Codes for all TVs from its database memory. But since a minute is a long time to wait, TV-B-Gone emits the Power Codes for the most popular televisions first. So, 90% of all televisions will turn off within the first 17 seconds (that’s for the North American & Asian model – for the European model 90% will turn off within the first 12 seconds).



But wait a gosh darned minute! Should we really allow this thing into the UK?



While it might prove to be an amusing distraction for members of the binge drinking crowd who wish to see chairs smashed over heads as TVs mysteriously switch off five minutes from the end of the Very Important Saturday Game In The Pub, is this TV-B-Gone not simply the precursor to any other number of electronic devices based on IR technology that may enable other dysfunctional groups of individuals to ruin the happiness and even wellbeing of hundreds of others by their malevolent actions?



Certainly, the TV-B-Gone device sends out a clear message to designers and developers of any mission critical systems who may be feeling the need to enhance the functionality of their designs by adding an IR remote control unit, doesn’t it? Because I’d hate to think of the consequences of Defibrillator B-Gone or Neutron Monitoring B-Gone in the hands of a terrorist.



The TV B-Gone device is presently available in the UK from Brighton-based Snoopers Paradise and on the Web at www.Gadgets.co.uk. Or check out its very own home page at: http://www.tvbgone.com.


It doesn’t come with a health warning, so be careful how you use it.



Dave Wilson