In 2013, 10 per cent of the remote controls shipped with major home consumer equipment will be RF-enabled. Over the next five years there will be a major surge in RF (radio frequency) technology adoption for remote controls as vendors look to differentiate their products, and/or drive growth in smart home services. While at the same time RF solutions continue to fall in price, implementations become more simplified and lower powers are achieved.
“RF technology has been considered for use in remote controls for many years but its adoption has been limited by a lack of perceived need among device vendors and prohibitive increases in associated costs when compared to IR solutions,” according to Peter Cooney, practice director. “However, over the last five years there has been an upswing in technology development and a rise in the need to make home consumer devices smart that has led to resurgence in using RF.”
Initially proprietary RF technology was used but equipment vendors have been quick to understand the benefits of using a standardised RF technology in remote control design. Three main interoperable standards are seeing adoption: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee RF4CE. Each technology is seeing use in certain sections of the market with vendors choosing to implement a particular technology due to its individual strengths, be it ultra-low power, high bandwidth, or another important feature.
Bluetooth and ZigBee have been the most widely used technologies to date and are expected to see significant growth, with increasing competition from Wi-Fi as lower power solutions continue to be developed.
“The remote control market represents a massive growth opportunity for wireless connectivity technology vendors,” added Cooney. “Over 3.2 billion remote controls will be shipped from 2013 to 2018 with flat panel TVs, set-top boxes, DVD/Blu-ray devices and games consoles alone.”