Simerec’s SIS-2 programmable infrared receiver chip seems a quick solution for adding IR control to electronics projects -
The SIS-2 monitors an IR receiver, and when a certain remote code is detected, an output pin will toggle. Two outputs are available and any code on any remote can be taught to the SIS-2. This makes it simple to implement an infrared (IR) remote controllable switching solution for a wide variety of applications. When used with an inexpensive IR receiver module, the SIS-2 recognizes IR signals from 2 independent IR remote control sources, and provides 2 modes of switching for your application.
Making those universal remotes a bit more ‘universal’. (considering using one of these to reset my cable modem/router from afar) – SIS-2 on Sparkfun