The only programming / hardware project I ever got 'paid' for was one to receive the IR transmissions from a redundant CD-i controller like the one shown in an earlier post and translate the received commands into equivalent serial mouse commands so that the remote could be used as a wireless / handheld mouse for lecture purposes, long before wireless mice and pointers ever became commercially available. It used a variant of the RC5 or RC6 protocol - can't remember which now. Implementing the right button held down + 'drag' function was the most difficult part.
My pay? A reasonably good PC 3D graphics card, when they themselves were still relatively uncommon.