Friday, September 25, 2009

Wireless Remote Control to Replace Infrared

For years infrared was the established standard for remote control devices. With little data to transfer and battery power usage being one of the primary criteria, it was a good solution. Today, data bandwidth requirements are going up so wireless comes into play as an alternative.

Bluetooth 3.0 brings a higher data rate and a Unicast Connectionless Data (UCD) feature that helps wireless compete with infrared for remote control applications. This article points out the reduce power consumption of UCD extending the life of batteries in a remote up to 4 years. Also, the new version reduces latency. In general wireless brings other advantages over infrared such as two-way communications, a longer range, and no line of sight requirements.

Critics claim that Bluetooth is overkill for this application. The cost for a Bluetooth based remote control will be higher than an infrared one which currently costs about $1. Customers will have to decide if they are willing to pay the extra price for the additional features. In addition to TVs the chip manufacturers are targeting set top boxes and other devices.

One challenge for wireless in this space is the fact that wireless protocols are proprietary and creating standards can be challenging. Something the consumer electronics industry is slow to lead but quick to adopt when established. In this position paper from the Bluetooth consortium, they highlight this issue. With a standard in place, this key hurdle is removed.


Best regards,

Hall T.

6 Comments:

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