Product Placement

Magnavox Remote Locator (Philips Electronics) .95

Image: Laura Copenhaver

Sure, remote controls cut out the grueling back-and-forth of in-person channel changing, but the handheld boon has also created a new challenge: “Our research showed that losing remotes was a big problem,” says Stan Veltkamp, general manager of accessories at Philips. “People would end up finding them in their refrigerators, in their couches, everywhere.”

Sensing a need, Philips introduced the Magnavox Remote Locator. Attach a small receiver to the back of your remote, and it trills back its location from up to 30 feet away.

The locator itself is identical in size and shape to a remote, but, says Veltkamp, it has a feature that helps it avoid the remote’s wayward fate: Velcro backing. “You can attach it to anything,” he says.

Veltkamp is aware of the product’s shortcomings. The locator came out two years ago, and “it hasn’t been a great seller.” More people are buying sets with built-in locators, or “rather than pay[ing] $19.95 for a locator,” he says, they “just buy a replacement” — for as little as $8.

Philips has learned a valuable lesson from the Locator’s lost opportunity, says Veltkamp. “People want things to be very simple,” he explains. “You start adding too many options, and they’re just going to get confused.”