Introduction: Apple TV Siri Remote Hard Case With Bluetooth Tile Finder
I once read a description of the iPhone as a "Stick of butter drenched in oil and spritzed with WD40 for good measure!" I think it was when the model 6 came out and everyone was dropping their expensive new phones and shattering the glass. Interestingly enough it was about the same time that the mobile phone accessory market really took off, (which by the way is now over $75 billion worldwide).
Think about it like this; design a product everyone desperately wants but intentionally design in a glaring flaw simply to create a completely new market. Brilliant! Apple is on an entirely different level of genius when is comes to business acumen and marketing.
Well, if that description is deserving for the iPhone (sans case), then the Siri remote is similar!
Disclaimer:I absolutely love EVERYTHING Apple (with the one exception being this remote!)
They even sell a wrist strap for the thing! Apple Wrist Strap for Siri Remote
I don't think I've seen another Apple product that has garnered as much rancor as this remote. And I firmly agree. If your hands are any larger than say, oh, a toddlers, this remote will literally drive you mad. If you haven't already lost the thing in your couch or chair cushion (seriously this thing will find the tiniest crevice and firmly wedge itself inside) and are able to spend even a few minutes attempting to use it, your patience will be mightily tested. I wonder how many of these would have been destroyed by frustrated users attempting to throw them at the wall, only to slip from their grasp at the last moment and fall gently to the floor? (Maybe those succumbed to a second effort from a well placed foot though.)
From the Apple website overview:
"The Siri Remote puts you in complete control of your Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. With Siri, you can find what you want to watch using just your voice. And the Touch surface lets you interact with your Apple TV quickly and easily."
Sounds great right? Well, here's the Apple Siri TV Remote in an actual use case:
- "Grrr- Where is that remote?"
- 20 minutes later and $4.73 richer from change in the couch, sit down and turn on your Apple 4K TV. Oh, well that was easy.
- "Siri? find the final episode of my favorite TV show and start playing." Siri responds, "OK, playing now". Oh that was easy too. "I love this remote. This remote is great!"
- Commercials appear, let me just slide my finger over this slick glass panel to skip through the commercials. Result?: TV volume goes down, the show fast forwards to the end, then gets permanently deleted from the DVR, then it changes the channel to CSPAN-14 and sets itself to record all future episodes of Senate Hearings and puts them at the top of the priority list, and tops it all off by purchasing $329 in Japanese comic books, which will be delivered Tuesday. Great!
- "Grrr - I hate this remote!"
It seriously is that bad though. With every one thing it does correctly, it does probably four things you didn't intend for it to do.
I'm a bit shocked Apple hasn't made any updates to the design.
UPDATE June 2021: The new Apple TV 4K comes with a new Siri remote that addresses some of the problems of the first one.
Cases you may suggest? Well, I have tried a few, and to be blunt they all were bad, so I'm sure Apple is not making much from the "Remote Accessory Market".
However, since I do love my Apple TV, I figured I'd design my own case, and here it is. It addresses the two major complaints:
- Its so small and is always getting misplaced - Tile to the rescue
- Usability - Me to the rescue with a custom designed hard case
(I actually used to work at Apple, hopefully they'll hire me back as a product designer or human interface engineer.)
(Last two images above are from Apple's product page, which is no longer an active page.)
- 3d Printer
Step 1: Prototyping
With 2 teenagers and 2 adults in the house, I had a good product evaluation team to bounce ideas off and get feedback from.
Here's the "Bucket O' Discarded Prototypes" to prove the point.
(Design Iteration #18-3 was the final version.)
Step 2: Conceptual Renders
Here's some test renders from the final version of the CAD.
(I use CREO for the CAD and Carrara for the rendering.)
Step 3: Design Features
For me, the single most important indication of a well designed remote is the ability to use the remote WITHOUT looking at it! Different shapes, different sizes, contours, texture differences, etc.. All of these attributes lend themselves to a well-designed remote because the user can memorize where all the buttons are to use the remote simply by feel.
While the Siri remote only has a few buttons these considerations are still important. Some may say even more important as Apple designed this thing to be almost entirely symmetric about not one but two axes! However, it really only needs one good tactile reference point to make it a million times easier to use, but I added a few more.
- Tactile Reference Point - Volume Up
- The Home Button is 1 button above
- The Volume Down Button is 1 button below
- Tactile Reference Point (for Lefties) - Microphone
- The Menu Button is 1 button above
- The Play/Pause Button is 1 button below
- Finger Rest and Tactile Reference for the Touchpad Slider
- This space allows you to rest your finger near the trackpad but without triggering it
- The design of the case in this area limits the action from the touchpad to just the slider
- Finger Rest and Tactile Reference for the Remotes' Corners
- The 15 second FF/RW button action from the touchpad is forced to the corners by the design of the case
- Access to the Charging Port (No need to remove from the case to charge.)
- Trigger Grip
- The trigger grip helps in simply supplying a better grip and feel of the remote in your hand
- It is also at the same height as the base of the case, so when placed on a surface it lies flat and steady
Step 4: Tile Compartment
Early iterations of the case's design had the Tile slide in from the outside of the case and it had a built-in tab in the case that retained the tile using the large hole in the Tile (first image above). I liked that design and it worked really well, but I didn't like the opening because it affected the feel of the whole remote in your hand. So, I chose the easier design path of simply dropping it into the main cavity at the base of the case. With that design the base of the case is uniform and symmetric with a nice feel in your hand.
Minor drawback with this is you have to take the remote out to take the tile in and out, but hey, how often will you need to do that right?
After changing the design for the Tile compartment, (and without significant remodeling) the distance from the Tile speaker port to the outside was now greater (5mm versus 2mm). Probably would not have affected the sound at all, but it got me thinking how to change the design to ensure the sound from the Tile is as loud as possible, and what if maybe even louder? I then remembered these cool iPhone cases I used to have for iPhone 5's. They were from Speck Products and actually made the volume louder, but passively.
So, I incorporated that feature into the design as well. See last image above for a cross section of the case showing the acoustic feature's geometry.
Final Result. Is it 80dBm louder!? Can you hear it from a block away? No. Is it louder? Yes. Hard to describe, but if on a volume setting scale of 0-10, with the normal Tile volume at 7, this mod makes it maybe to 8. Improvement sure. Worth the design time? No, but my pain is your gain.
One side advantage is with the speaker output of the Tile redirected to the belly side of the case, it is less likely to get muffled when buried deep inside your couch. So there is that benefit.
Step 5: It Looks Incomplete? Why?
So there are several reasons why the front of the case seems unfinished or incomplete. Like the 3D printer stopped at 80% right? Well, these are the reasons:
- First and foremost, the remote has to slide in from the top. So, the case can not fully wrap around the top of the remote.
- The infrared port for the remote is at the top. The remote is Bluetooth (I think, maybe wifi, idk.) but only to the Apple TV. When controlling your audio or TV volume it uses the IR port.
- The microphone for Siri is also at the top of the remote
- So while trying to avoid the IR port and mic, and also not prohibiting the remote from sliding into the case, made for a difficult design in that area. And even if I had come up with a successful design it would have served no beneficial function. And being the type of person that hates inefficiency in all forms, I intentionally chose to leave it "unfinished"!
Step 6: Finish
Here is the latest copy fresh off the printer only a few hours ago. So didn't have time to sand or do any secondary finishing. (Was in hurry to get this published for the contest.)
I need to fix the model before posting the files. You can imagine after over 20 complete redesigns the CAD is not in good shape. And if you've looked at my other Instructables you know of my dislike of CREO, and this is one of the reasons why. Its just not good for the free-flow type of fluid design that I gravitate towards. Another compelling reason to switch to Fusion360!
Thanks for taking the time to look at and hopefully read through my Instructable. Please send me any questions or comments you might have. I try to answer them all. Stay safe and healthy! Happy Printing!
(P.S. I designed this for my Form 2 SLA printer, but recently got a FDM printer and printed to that and it came out perfect too.)
Step 7: Purchasing
Please go to Gumroad.com/Iceland73 to purchase.
Participated in the
3D Printed Contest