RF to supplant infrared in remote controls

Tired of looking for just the right angle to get your remote control to actually control your TV?

You might not have to play the aiming game for long, according to a recent study by electronics research and consultancy firm IMS Research. The England-based firm says current infrared (IR) remote controls used for most appliances and devices will likely be supplanted by wireless radio frequency (RF) model in the next few years.

“Nearly one-fifth of all remote controls will feature wireless RF technology by 2018 that enable advanced technologies not available to current remotes,” the report said. “This can include non-line-of-sight control, voice control, gesture control, touch control and motion detection.”

While RF-based controllers are a good fit for controlling appliances such as smart TVs, DVD/Blu Ray players, game consoles and set top-boxes, the technology will also become prevalent in the business world.


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The adoption of RF-based controllers will be “driven by device manufacturers that want to extend control functionality and allow them to take advantage of purpose-made RF remote controls – and in some instances, smart phones and portable computing devices,” according to IMS.

Approximately 450 million RF remote controls will ship between 2013 and 2018, pushing the market share of RF controls to 18 per cent by 2018.

Philip Maddocks, analysts for connectivity at IHS Inc., the parent company of IMS, RF remote controls will feature technologies like Bluetooth Smart, ZigBee RF4CE, or low-power Wi-Fi.

Low-power wireless technology is already being used in some devices which will make incorporating the technology into the remote control easier.

“When the host device is already equipped with a low-power wireless technology, it can make sense to produce a control that takes advantage of that same technology as only one additional integrated circuit is required for the control,” said Maddocks.

IMS said RF-based remote controls still have some hurdles to overcome. For instance, infrared technology is still very prevalent in remote controls and users are more familiar with the technology. IR-based remote controls are also cheaper than their RF-based counterparts.


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