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Peel RemoteThe plucky startup Peel, which recently launched an iPhone app to help you find things to watch on TV, is making a big step forward today by launching hardware that will turn its app into a powerful universal remote control.

Now not only will you be able to make sense of what’s on TV with Peel’s app, you’ll also be able to tune directly to a program from within the app.

But even with the addition of new hardware, Peel is still focused on TV discovery with its app. After downloading it from the iTunes Store, you simply need to provide the app with information on how you access TV. The app then begins to personalize your experience by having you order your favorite genres and sports, and it lets you delete items you’ll never watch.

Peel’s “Top Picks” section offers recommendations to you based on your preferences, and the app’s recommendation engine is updated as you ‘favorite’, share and hide shows. The company says that Peel is smart enough to determine what you like to watch at specific times of the day. The app also lets you see what TV shows, movies and sports are on the air, and it lets you search programming as well.

Peel’s universal remote control hardware consists of two parts: the Peel Cable that plugs into your router, and the Peel fruit, a citrusy looking device that sits within view of your entertainment system. Since hunting and pecking for buttons on a touchscreen isn’t ideal for TV watching, the company developed gesture methods for controlling aspects of your entertainment system like volume.

Peel says that the hardware can control thousands of models of TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players, cable and satellite boxes and more. It’s also compatible with web streaming devices like Roku’s set-top box, Apple TV and Google TV. The company hasn’t settled on a price for its universal remote hardware yet, so it’s letting would-be customers name their own price for device on its website.

The combination of a killer TV discovery engine with universal remote control capabilities makes Peel an app to keep an eye on. Google is currently trying its hand at TV discovery on Google TV, but it’s nowhere near as smart or attractive as Peel’s solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google ends up snapping up the company, as both its app discovery and remote technology would be a boon to Google TV.

Peel is based in Santa Clara, Calif., and has entered into first round funding with Redpoint Ventures. Harrison Metal has also invested in the company.

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