I would be remiss to end this review without mentioning one of the most important aspects of FLIRC, it’s overall mission. When I first heard of FLIRC and checked out the product, the only thing I knew was that it was essentially the project of one man, Jason Kotzin, who was frustrated with the state of IR remote support on Linux and wanted to do something about it:
I am an avid user of linux, but my biggest gripe was trying to use my Panasonic TV remote control with my ubuntu media center. There is a project called LIRC which converts your IR signal to electrical and has some decent support and a big following. However, my remote wasn’t on the supported remote control list, I reluctantly gave up unwilling to make the effort to add my remote. Out of my frustration, F(LIRC) was born.
This seemed like a good enough reason to put a product like this into production (if, perhaps, a serious overreaction), and certainly a good enough reason for us here at The Powerbase to take interest. But as I put in more time researching the product and going through the FLIRC site, I learned more of the incredible story behind its creation and overall mission.
Right after his graduation, Jason Kotzin was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. He was helped through his surgery and followup chemotherapy treatments by his girlfriend (now wife) Maggie, herself a cancer survivor. That was 5 years ago, and Jason now has a clean bill of health and officially considers himself a cancer survivor. Looking for a way to give back to his oncologist Dr. Heinz Lenz, Jason and Maggie decided to use FLIRC as a way to raise funds for the University of Southern California’s Cancer Center; a portion of every sale goes directly to the Cancer Center and the man who Jason feels is responsible for saving his life.
It would have been very easy for Jason to plaster this fact all over the website, remind you on every page about it until you were guilted into purchasing a FLIRC, in the process he could have jacked up the price and likely ended up making more money. But that isn’t his style. Aside from the little blue ribbon on the back of the FLIRC package and the footer of the site, you would never have known FLIRC was anything but another product vying for the increasingly popular HTPC market. Jason isn’t trying to make himself look like a hero or flaunt his philanthropic goals, FLIRC is simply his personal way of giving back to those who helped him when he needed it the most.
It would be easy to forgive faults with FLIRC given the noble goals of its creator, Jason Kotzin. Poor build quality, shoddy software, all could be given a pass once you realize that your purchase price went to supporting cancer research. You would have to be a pretty cold person to blast a product for minor issues if one of its goals is to raise money for a good cause.
But the fact of the matter is, with the FLIRC, you don’t have to. The hardware and software are top notch, and show the dedication to quality and attention to detail that is a hallmark of a small team working on a labor of love. There is no question that Jason and everyone who is working with him on FLIRC are exceptionally proud of what they have accomplished, and they should be. FLIRC is a new approach to controlling your computer that manages to fix essentially every problem with existing implementations.
Not only is FLIRC a brilliant stand-alone concept, but we would all be better off if this technology was implemented into consumer hardware across the board. Why can’t we program our TVs or surround sound receivers to work with remotes of our choice? The hardware is more than capable, it’s just missing the software. Perhaps FLIRC is the first step in that idea being a reality.
FLIRC is currently available for the pre-order price of $20.00 from flirc.tv.