I first saw Roccat's Power-Grid, announced today, back at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The German-based PC accessory company first showed me its top-of-the-line keyboards and mice (customizable, wonderfully designed), and then asked if I wanted to see something really special. They swore me to secrecy, and then pulled out the Power-Grid setup. It's an iPhone app that works with a special bit of software on your PC, which turns your iOS device into a remote control.
Power-Grid goes way beyond controlling audio and document sharing. It's completely customizable and ties into everything Roccat's software can access. That means that you could build a touchscreen keyboard on the iPhone's screen. Any game shortcuts, launch buttons, or anything else you've got programmed there (World of Warcraft ability key shortcuts?) becomes available from a touch of your iPhone's screen.
The app also has an "Incoming Center," which lets you take messages, voice chat with other users, or use Facebook and Skype. This is designed for PC gamers. If you're in a game and don't want to tab to a browser for Facebook or pick up a Skype call, just use your phone and keep playing on your PC.
This functionality will grow over time, as well. Once you've created a set of keyboard shortcuts that you really like, you can share it as a "grid" with other users. Useful grids will be available for download and use.
Roccat plans to make the app free to download, but will eventually monetize by adding extra features, like the option to have more than one swipeable grid (like flipping through icons on an iOS home screen, only with the icons affecting features on your actual PC), or more options for use, like monitoring your PC's temperatures, fan speeds, or uptime on the iOS device's screen.
Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to see it in action back at CES. The connection requires a Wi-Fi network, and as you might imagine, the crowded show floor made it hard to find a good one. But Roccat did show the app off at CeBit, and the company is taking beta signups for the program right now. Initially, the app will be iOS only, but Android versions are planned.
The Power-Grid is definitely an intriguing idea, and Roccat, though not well known in the US, has a long history of well-made, customizable PC gaming controllers and software. If you use a PC for gaming a lot, and wouldn't mind making some more direct use of your iOS device's screen space while playing, keep an eye out for this one. We'll definitely let you know when the app goes live, and we're able to try it out directly.