By: Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology
Frustration with remote controls is not uncommon. Entrepreneur Barnabas Helmy explained how the struggle with having so many remote controls is real.
“It’s old fashioned. It’s a technology that’s kind of dated,” said Helmy.
So Helmy set out to build a solution that he believes will take the average person a step closer to smart homes. It starts with the one item most people have with them almost all of the time, their smartphone.
“You’ve got this amazing computer in your pocket that can do everything,” he explained.
He says it’s about starting small, slightly larger than a half dollar. It’s a device called the PUCK. It’s Helmy’s patented technology that is a “wireless Bluetooth low-energy to infrared bridge. “
In the HEC Media video, Helmy shows how a user attaches PUCK on or near a device that uses an infrared remote. Then a user would download and pair with the free PUCK Remote App for iOS and Android.
Helmy’s inspiration is his daughter, Bijou Rose.
“When she was about two to three (years old) she was teething. And she constantly would chew on the apple TV remote and break it,” Helmy said. “And rather than keep buying more apple TV remotes, which was $90 at the time, I just started tinkering trying to figure out a solution.”
Having a background in computer science and electrical engineering, Helmy said he got to work developing his idea at his home in his Springfield, Illinois.
In 2015, the non-profit Arch Grants awarded Helmy’s startup company, SmashToast Inc., a $50,000 grant to grow his company in St. Louis.
Having success, Helmy said he rolled out the new and improved PUCK 2 with 10 times the range, better battery and more.
Helmy discovered another placement for PUCK, called PUCKmed. It’s for people who need help. That’s when PUCK became more than just a product for convenience. His focus for the technology now includes assistive technology for people with disabilities.
He’s now working with a hospital in Atlanta to develop PUCKmed. The goal is to help people with spinal cord injuries or motor skills impairments. For those with severe disabilities, Helmy says PUCK can be connected to technology that allows them to control their environment with their eyes and mouth.
Helmy called it the “Power of PUCK”.