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Boxee and Nordic take remote controls into the future with Boxee Box RF remote with QWERTY keyboard and Nordic’s 2.4GHz wireless connectivity

To provide simple TV-based access to Internet movies and other digital content the Boxee Box needed a double-sided RF remote with a QWERTY keyboard on the flipside

The Boxee Box by D-Link features an innovative double-sided RF remote control with simple user controls on the front (right/left, up/down, play/pause, and menu) and full QWERTY keyboard on the back for TV-based search and playback of Internet movies, TV shows, video clips, links from socials networks, and local digital content libraries including videos, music, and pictures stored within the home

Oslo, Norway – February 8, 2011 – Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA (OSE: NOD) today announces that the double-sided remote controller in the Boxee Box by D-Link – incorporating an operationally simple navigation interface on the front and full QWERTY keyboard on the flipside – uses the company’s 2.4GHz wireless connectivity technology.

 

The Boxee Box removes the hassle of hunting and pecking for TV shows and movies on the Internet and allows users to view such content on a TV rather than having to sit in front of a computer. Access to many major on-line movie rental libraries is also available, plus the ability to send and receive recommendations with friends on Facebook and Twitter, assign individual accounts to multiple users within a household, and view personal (home computer, network or cloud) media files such as videos, music, and pictures.

 

The Boxee Box RF remote's QWERTY keyboard provides advanced navigation that traditional infrared (IR) remote controls are unable to support due to lack of bandwidth and bi-directional communication – something considered crucial by Boxee.

 

"When you move from terrestrial/cable to Internet TV you move from accessing content via a listings-based Electronic Program Guide (EPG) to search-based browsing of millions of potential content channels," explains Andrew Kippen, VP of Marketing at Boxee. "This shifts the paradigm from browse to search where a QWERTY keyboard and responsive remote control become mandatory."

 

In operation, a Nordic nRF24LE1 2.4GHz system-on-chip (SoC) ULP transceiver and microcontroller (see 'About nRF24LE1' below) in the remote control handset communicates with and a Nordic nRF24LU1+ 2.4GHz single chip USB 2.0-compliant dongle transceiver in the Boxee Box (see 'About nRF24LU1+' below). The wireless connectivity required to support a fast and reliable advanced QWERTY keyboard feature offering high immunity to interference from other 2.4GHz radio sources operating in the vicinity is managed by Nordic's Gazell RF software.

 

In addition, RF eliminates the need for IR’s line-of-sight access, allowing devices to be controlled through objects and even interior walls (up to a range of 15m and assuming wall construction materials do not excessively attenuate RF signals). (See 'About RF remote control' below.)

 

“For a younger generation, the Internet provides everything they need – from Facebook to YouTube to Amazon to Yelp," continues Kippen. "With sites like Netflix and Hulu it’s quickly becoming the place to turn for everything entertainment as well. However, people are missing out on the full experience because many are stuck viewing the content on a tiny 15-inch computer screen with a keyboard and mouse. If you tried to buy a 15-inch TV today people would laugh at you, but we continue to watch online because the range of content available on the web is amazing and so we simply suffer the inconvenience.

 

"The Boxee Box changes all this by providing a simple and enjoyable way to access digital content stored on the Internet or elsewhere on a TV. Users can search for favorite shows or movies by name, for example, and Boxee does the rest – including downloading relevant artwork and program summaries. It really is that simple."

 

“Using an on-screen keyboard is a pain, but forcing users to adopt a PC-style keyboard and navigation tool such as a mouse in the living room would have undermined the mass-market design elegance we wanted," adds Tom Sella, who led the technical design team behind the Boxee Box RF remote. “Nordic’s RF technology provided the bandwidth and bi-directional wireless functionality we needed to support keyboard and high speed navigation features in a sleek, easy-to-use handset. And better yet, the user doesn’t even have to point the remote directly at the Boxee Box when it’s being used – they can be in another room.”

 

About Boxee (www.boxee.tv)

Boxee is changing the way people experience home entertainment by bringing TV shows, movies, videos, and music from the Internet to the TV. Boxee’s free software can be easily downloaded to any computer or embedded into TVs, Blu-Ray players, game consoles, and set top boxes. Boxee has quickly established itself as the best way to bring entertainment from different sources into one place – anything from a local collection of movies, TV shows, music, and photos, to streaming content from websites like Netflix, MLB.TV, Pandora, Last.fm, and Flickr. Users can also discover new entertainment from their friends and share recommendations with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. More than a million people use Boxee to enjoy their entertainment. Learn how you can join them at www.boxee.tv.

 

About RF remote control

Inexpensive, reliable infrared (IR) units have dominated wireless remote control since the 70s. Moreover, IR remote control will continue to satisfy markets where an inexpensive and simple remote control is required for line-of-sight operation only (the user has to physically point the IR remote control at the IR receiver on the device under control), for years to come.

 

However, the imminent revolution in the way consumers access digital media will only be realized through the advanced functionality enabled by an RF link. RF technology provides a faster response, bi-directional connection (IR is only one-way), non-line of sight control, and extended range compared to IR. RF allows devices to be controlled through objects and even interior walls (usually up to a range of about 15m assuming wall building materials do not excessively attenuate RF signals). These are major advantages for consumers when accessing the huge array of digital content – including dozens of cable channels, video stored on the hard disks of set top boxes (STBs), music and photo libraries stored on PCs, or movies cached on remote servers.

 

Accessing such digital content with a traditional IR remote’s basic one-button-one-operation and step-by-step navigation does not meet the challenge of providing fast browsing and convenient access. This demands a remote control equipped with advanced navigation interfaces such as scroll wheels, touchscreens, touch pads, movement sensors, track balls or joysticks. Only RF has sufficient bandwidth over a bi-directional link to support advanced user interfaces while consuming modest battery power and meeting mass-market cost constraints.

 

RF technology utilized for remote control with advanced navigation requires low latency (for rapid response to user input commands), good data integrity (to minimize the need to resend corrupted packets), and low power consumption (because next-generation remotes are likely to be used more intensively than traditional IR remotes but will require a similar battery life to meet established consumer expectations).

 

Wireless PC peripherals (mice, keyboards, and joysticks) face the same challenges and Nordic has supplied 2.4GHz technology to this market for many years. Nordic's proprietary nRF24LE1/Gazell™ RF technology powering a wireless mouse, for example, is ideally suited to RF remote control. It is a proven technology used on millions of 'wireless desktops', employing inexpensive, robust, interference immune 2.4GHz transceivers and customized protocols. A wireless mouse provides an advanced navigation interface (seamless movement of a cursor on the PC’s monitor), latency of just a few milliseconds, and power consumption of just a few milliamps during extended operation (yielding a battery life from a pair of regular AAA cells of many months).

 

About the nRF24LE1™

The nRF24LE1 is a ULP system-on-chip 2.4GHz transceiver that enables single-chip implementation of wireless applications. The nRF24LE1’s radio is a fully featured nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz transceiver core including Nordic’s proven Enhanced ShockBurst™ hardware link layer. It delivers true ULP operation with peak currents low enough to run on coin cell batteries.

 

The nRF24LE1 integrates an enhanced 8051 mixed signal MCU core featuring fewer clock cycles per instruction than legacy 8051 devices. Most instructions need just one or two clock cycles leading to an average performance improvement of 8X using the MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) benchmark. This high performance combined with 16kbytes of on-chip flash and 1kbytes of SRAM ensures the processing platform is powerful enough to run both the RF protocol stack and application layer with ease.

 

A wide range of peripherals and power saving modes support the RF protocol stack. A ULP 32kHz crystal oscillator provides high accuracy timing for low report rate synchronous protocols and a 16MHz RC oscillator provides fast start-up times from idle. The 32kHz oscillator can provide timing accurate enough for higher report rate protocols without requiring an external crystal. A security co-processor enables AES encrypted wireless communication. The nRF24LE1 provides a range of nanoamp and microamp idle modes specifically designed for ULP RF protocol stacks. Further benefits include higher precision protocol timing, lower power consumption and improved co-existence performance.

 

For the application layer the nRF24LE1 offers a rich set of interfaces and peripherals including an SPI, 2-wire, UART, 12-bit ADC, PWM and an analog comparator. As such, the nRF24LE1 is the ideal single chip solution for applications including mice, keyboards, remote controls, game controllers, sports/healthcare sensors, toys and active RFID tags.

 

About the nRF24LU1+™

The nRF24LU1+ is a unique single chip solution enabling ultra compact USB dongles for wireless peripherals. By integrating an USB 2.0 compliant device controller, 8 bit application microcontroller and an nRF24L01+ compatible 2.4GHz RF Transceiver it supports a wide range of application including PC peripherals, sports accessories and game peripherals.

 

The nRF24LU1+ offers full interoperability with the nRF24L01+™ 2 Mbps 2.4GHz transceiver and its Enhanced ShockBurst™ hardware link layer, and integrates a full-speed USB 2.0-compliant device controller, an enhanced 8051 compatible microcontroller, a hardware AES security co-processor, 16 or 32 kBytes of flash memory and 2 kBytes SRAM. The nRF24LU1+ is supplied in a 32-pin 5 by 5mm QFN package.

 

With an on-chip voltage regulator (covering a 4.0 to 5.25V supply range) that enables the chip to be powered directly from the USB bus, the nRF24LU1+ does not require an external voltage regulator, saving cost and board space. With a fully integrated RF synthesizer and PLL for the USB no external loop filters, resonators or VCO varactor diodes are required, only a low cost ±60ppm 16MHz crystal, matching circuitry and the antenna.

 

The nRF24LU1 features 6 general-purpose digital input/output pins, hardware SPI slave & master (UART) and three 16-bit timers/counters. It supports firmware upgrade over USB and a FS2 hardware debugger. In addition, the nRF24LU1+ is air compatible with the nRF24LE1, nRF24LU1, nRF24L01+, nRF24L01, nRF2401A, 02, E1 and E2.

 

The 128 bit AES encryption/decryption co-processor provides industry standard data encryption and decryption at the application level, and the on-chip flash memory features fully configurable write and read back protection, offering complete protection from reverse engineering.

 

With air data rate of 2 Mbps combined with full speed USB, supporting up to 12 Mbps, the nRF24LU1+ meets performance requirements of a wide range of applications including PC peripherals, advanced media center remote controls, intelligent sports accessories and toys.

 

About Nordic Semiconductor ASA

Nordic Semiconductor is a fabless semiconductor company specializing in ultra low power (ULP) short-range wireless communication.

 

Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF24xxx range of 2.4GHz transceiver and transmitter devices are aimed at applications including PC peripherals (wireless keyboards/mice/multimedia controllers), game controllers, intelligent sports equipment and wireless audio (for example, MP3 and portable CD player wireless headphones and wireless PC speakers).

 

Nordic is a member of the ANT+ Alliance and has successfully collaborated with ANT Wireless of Cochrane, Canada, since 2005. ANT devices such as the nRF24AP2 family – using Nordic 2.4GHz transceivers and the proven ANT protocol – have been used in millions of wireless sensor nodes across the world. ANT is perfectly suited for any kind of low data rate sensor network topologies in personal area networks (PANs) and practical wireless sensor networks (WSNs). ANT+ (built on the ANT protocol) facilitates interoperability between ANT+ Alliance member devices in application segments such as sports, wellness, and medical health sensors.

 

Nordic is an associate member of the Bluetooth SIG, and has contributed core expertise in ultra low power (ULP) RF design to Bluetooth® low energy wireless technology (formerly ultra low power Bluetooth). Bluetooth low energy is a short range RF communication technology featuring ultra low power consumption, a lightweight protocol stack and simple integration with Bluetooth chips. It is a hallmark feature of the latest Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0. The technology will support the next generation of RF communications by opening up many new opportunities for ULP wireless data links between suitably equipped mobile handsets or computers and small (typically coin cell) battery-powered devices such as sports, wellness, and medical health sensors.

 

Nordic’s products are all manufactured in state of the art semiconductor process technologies through strong, long-term relationships with world-best manufacturing facilities. Sales are primarily made through a carefully selected worldwide distribution network.