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I am trying to understand if under the hood of my MacBook Pro I can have access to its IR sensor (the same used for Apple Remote)?

The goal is to read/listen to IR signals, for example a TV controller or my child's remote control car controller.

Are there any tricks or software I can use to achieve this?

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    No, it's not a universal ir detector, it only detects the remote's ir, and sends it to the motherboard where the os picks it up. It's not "usable". In theory you could check if maybe it has a controller you can hack and write custom firmware for, but it's also possible it's using a non-standard wavelength sensor and it can't even see other ir signals. – John Keates Sep 22 '16 at 0:25
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Apple's IR sensor only works with the two versions of the Apple remote (white plastic and aluminum).

To use another remote you need to attach an external IR receiver and install additional software.

See remote buddy

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