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RF remotes: Move over, IR

Posted: 03 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:remote control RF? remote IR? CE equipment?

The traditional IR remote control device used to command consumer electronics equipment including TVs and STBs is good at what it does, but in today's terms, somewhat limited. Even "universal" remotes that control multiple devices are quite one-dimensional. If some major CE manufacturers have their way, the next generation of remotes will be based on RF technology. The growth curve for these products is just beginning, but is forecast to show a 55 percent CAGR through 2014.

According to senior analyst Jason Blackwell of ABI Research, the first such products are already appearing in Japan. "RF remote controls are starting to ship with a few high-end Japan TVs such as Sony's premium Bravia models. Companies like Sony hope to start with early adopters, then ramp up volumes, drive down costs and move these remotes into more mainstream products."

Interactivity prevails
IR remotes work fine, so why move to RF?

The reason is interactivity, which is becoming prevalent in today's digital home. As more devices add Internet connectivity and the ability for two-way communication and greater interactivity, RF remotes offer the prospect of better communication with devices: They can sense the status of the devices they control, for example, and report that back to the user. Users can also input information through more evolved interfaces. There's no need for the line-of-site required by IR, so an RF remote could control STB or audio receiver in another room.

The move to RF remotes is being driven by major OEMs, not by consumer demand. But, Blackwell adds, "If vendors can make consumers aware of the benefits, that will drive consumer adoption. And if manufacturers can offer a remote that works with a wide range of devices, RF adoption becomes that much easier." To that end, a number of manufacturers are currently hammering out standards.





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