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I am thinking about using iPads with headrest mounts to allow my toddlers to watch videos while we drive. I'd really like to be able to control the iPad from the front seat if at all possible, so that we don't have to get into the back seat and do things like slide to unlock, press play/pause, adjust the volume, etc.

Are there any devices that could be used to remotely control the iPad from the front seat in this fashion?

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Pro tip - if possible, get a mount that is likely to be future proof. What I mean is watch out for mounts that are very custom that may not accommodate a potentially newly designed iPad 3/4. Some food for thought. –  Randy6T9 Apr 28 '11 at 10:24
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4 Answers 4

There is nothing that steps into the iPad at a low enough level as to simulate a swipe to unlock. Even the external keyboard connector could be extended, but that won't allow total control of the device even if you could operate things without seeing the display. There is no concept of a mouse or pointing device in the iOS or the iPad hardware.

You might want to consider a generic LCD panel / speaker system and an iPod touch or iPad with a cable that will reach to the front seats. You could queue up the entertainment and use the video out to present it to the passengers in the back until such time as they can learn iOS and be trusted to hold the iPad. It won't take long for that to happen or for them to show you every hidden feature you never knew existed or could be enabled in the iPad.

This use case screams for an AirPlay video receiver but those aren't shipping yet even in the living room.

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+1 But don't forget the KISS principle -- you can get a portable DVD player for less than $60 these days (amazon.com/Coby-TFDVD7009-7-Inch-Portable-Player/dp/B0036R76R4). The primary downside is not having access to a digital media library, but it's cheap, easy, and you won't have to risk your $500+ iPad at all. –  Austin May 6 '11 at 6:15
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Slide to Unlock (as bmike mentioned) might be impossible.

What you could take a look at is are the various DLNA / UPnP applications for iPhone/iPad. These would allow you to set the movie to be played and play/pause it of course.

Also, you could consider a iPad mount that supports IR headphones so you wouldn't be distracted by your kids entertainment on the back seat. (I'm not supposed to make advertisement, but you could Bing for iPad Mount with IR headphones).

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I can think of one way that you might have success, but it's pretty hacky and requires an additional iDevice, some method of connecting the three together wirelessly (either adhoc mode, an iPhone with tethering, or any of the other solutions out there that let up to five devices talk to each other), and the iPads must be jailbroken.

  • Install Veency from Cydia
  • Install VNC client on your iDevice up front
  • Make sure all the iDevices are on the same network (i.e., not each on a 3G connection, but either adhoc'd to each other or to another portable router/3G modem)
  • Remote into each iPad as desired via your VNC client. It's not pretty, but once you start the movie, you can stop controlling the iPad. You have control over pretty much everything (including the lock screen, IIRC), as well as volume (via the multi-tasking bar) IIRC, and definitely control over the apps running and videos playing.

All that said, I don't know of any way to keep the kids from playing with the iPad and getting places you don't want them to be (say, Settings), but the above is a start.

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Friend of mine uses BMW NBT (it supports DLNA) and ArkMC on iPhone. Now he able to stream music from device to car entertainment system.

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