Low-power wireless projected to make waves in remote controls

Approximately 450 million RF remote controls will ship between 2013 and 2018, with the percentage of RF remotes reaching up to 18 percent of all such devices by 2018.


IMS Research (now acquired by IHS, Inc.)Nearly one-fifth of all remote controls will feature wireless radio frequency (RF) technology by 2018 that enable many advanced technologies not available with current remotes, including voice and gesture control,  according to insights from IMS Research, now part of IHS.

Approximately 450 million RF remote controls will ship between 2013 and 2018, with the percentage of RF remotes reaching up to 18 percent of all such devices by 2018.

Incorporating RF into remotes can add a range of functionality not enabled by today’s incumbent infrared technology. This can include non-line-of-sight control, voice control, gesture control, touch control and motion detection. Such new features, in turn, will be key drivers for device manufacturers aiming to create a richer control environment for the consumer, especially with the growing uptake of interactive Smart TVs.

“With Smart TVs finding their way into more and more homes, advances are taking place in how consumers control these devices. And increasingly, RF technology is being integrated into the remote controls of consumer electronic devices to enable a range of advanced functions,” said Philip Maddocks, analyst for Connectivity at IHS.

RF-based remote controls will also feature technologies like Bluetooth Smart, ZigBee RF4CE, or low-power Wi-Fi, added Maddocks. The uptake of RF remotes with these technologies will increase over the coming years, 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, smartphone and portable computing devices.

Low-power wireless technologies have already demonstrated uptake in a variety of “host” devices, such as TVs, DVD/Blu-ray players and set-top boxes, which in some cases can drive the incorporation of these technologies into the remote control. “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 the same technology as only one additional integrated circuit is required for the control,” noted Maddocks. This is true even though there are some technical limitations with technologies that can negate the driver.

While RF technologies can provide a wealth of additional benefits for control functionality, an overwhelming majority of remote controls will still use IR in 2018, projections show. The IR technology is familiar to consumers, which tend to choose the technology they’re comfortable with, and IR-based remote controls are also less expensive to manufacture.

- Edited by Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, CFE Media. See other industrial research

See more research from IHS.

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