When an action is routine and uninteresting (e.g. locking a door, turning off a light, etc.), it’s sometimes hard to remember if you did it at all.
Occasionally, people find themselves wondering “did I close the garage when I left the house?” or “did I remember to lock the car when I parked it on the street?”
The solution to some of these scenarios is straightforward: every remote control device could have a small LCD screen to indicate how long it has been since the last time it was used.
For example, for a garage door opener, the display might read “5 MIN. SINCE “CLOSE”.” Then you would know that you had pushed the “CLOSE DOOR” button on the remote 5 minutes ago (and thus, probably did in fact remember to close the garage door).
Since LCD displays are so cheap, this would only increasing manufacturing costs by a few cents per device. See Figure 1 for a car remote-entry key fob mockup.
Upgraded Version Idea:
In order to reduce complexity, the system above only checks to see the last time a button was pushed, not whether the action actually occurred (most remotes are one-way, and do not have any way of determining, for example, whether or not the garage door did, in fact, close successfully).
Thus, a logical extension of the idea above would be to put a small receiver in the remote as well, so that the garage could send back a “yep, garage door closed successfully!” message. Then the LCD screen would be able to say “GARAGE DOOR LAST CLOSED 5 MIN. AGO” instead of the (somewhat weaker) statement “BUTTON LAST PRESSED 5 MIN. AGO.”
PROS: This seems like it could legitimately be a product, and it is unclear why it is not!
CONS: Adds a 15¢ cost to each device for the LCD display and additional plastic.