Rutgers alumnus creates browser remote control app


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Photo by SCREENSHOT FROM MOTE.IO |

University alumnus Ian Jennings created ‘Mote,’ a browser remote control, and launched it Sept. 11. The app lets users control websites with their phones.


Most computer scientists have come to grips with the fact that a disturbing percentage of their existence will be spent at a desk staring at a screen. Any respite from this life sentence is met with deep gratitude, which is typically the response a new app called “Mote” receives within the development community.

On Sept. 11, Ian Jennings, a Rutgers alumnus, launched “Mote,” a browser remote control.

Jennings, who is also a co-founder of HackerLeague.com, demoed the app at the Rutgers Tech Meetup on Sept. 13, and received a standing ovation. A day earlier, “Mote” was featured on the tech blog, GigaOM.

The Daily Targum sat down with Jennings to discuss “Mote”:

The Daily Targum: What is “Mote” in your own words?

Ian Jennings: Mote lets you control your favorite sites remotely. It’s weird, because it can be different for a lot of people. Most people want to use it as a shortcut for a music website. But many people also find it useful as a PowerPoint slide remote or as a YouTube channel controller they can use from their couch. Essentially, it lets you connect your phone to the web so you can interact with your favorite websites.

DT: When and how did you come up with the concept for “Mote”?

IJ: I came up with “Mote” during my senior year in college. I was coding all the time and listening to HypeMachine on a second monitor. I wanted to be able to control my music quickly without having to go back to the second screen.

The first version was a mobile web app, and there was no intention of making it into a polished product. At the time, it was just a proof of concept, but as I used it more, I soon realized others would also want to.

DT: Is “Mote” your first mobile app, or have you long been involved in mobile development?

IJ: I don’t care about mobile or web. I care about making new experiences. It’s more about the idea and the outcome.

DT: What’s next for the project?

IJ: The extension is going to be open-source on [the web-based hosting service] GitHub so that anyone can program remotes for any website and submit them to me for review. If I accept the request, the feature will go into the next update. I’m going to open up the project at HackNY, the [New York University] hackathon on Sept. 28 to 29.

DT: What are your aspirations for “Mote” down the line? Do you see yourself seeking capital?

IJ: I would like it to be a lifestyle business. It’s not at that point yet — it’s going to be a lot of work. I need to see how much I want to push it. I’ve been considering applying to a business accelerator, but it’s hard to tell if the model supports a company. It could potentially support a single person, but I don’t know about a multi-person company. It’s still kind of a hack — you’re not supposed to forward clicks from a phone to elements on a website. Everything about it is hacky.

DT: What keeps you up at night about the project?

IJ: I’ve heard from a lot of people that “Mote” works really well with Chromecast, the new Google appliance that connects your TV to your laptop. I’m a little worried because Apple and Google are coming out with products in this space, and the space is growing.

I have a niche right now because no one is doing web-based apps. I’m converting apps into my own platform, whereas other competitors are trying to get people to build apps for their proprietary platform. For the next little bit though, I think I’m going to sit back and relax.

Nis Frome is a Rutgers Business School senior and the co-founder of Hublished. He has written on the topics of growth hacking and content marketing for Forbes, The Social Media Monthly and Content Marketing institute. Follow him @NisFrome.


By Nis Frome

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