Press Backgrounders

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 and 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

Only RF technology can endow remote controls with the advanced navigation interfaces demanded by today's consumers. (Courtesy: Philips Home Control)

Only RF technology can endow remote controls with the advanced navigation interfaces demanded by today's consumers. (Courtesy: Philips Home Control)


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).