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LG, Toshiba Lend Support To ZigBee RF Remotes

7/14/2010 04:32:16 PM Eastern
San Ramon, Calif. - The development of RF remotes that compete with IR remotes on price got a boost with the announcement that LG and Toshiba have joined the ZigBee RF4CE steering committee, whose member include such CE heavyweights as Freescale, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Texas Instruments.

The ZigBee Alliance's ZigBee RF4CE specification features a remote control profile suitable for use in low-cost remotes shipped with TVs, disc players, set-top boxes and audio equipment, although the spec will be expanded eventually to include products such as garage door openers and keyless-entry systems. Unlike IR remotes, RF4CE remotes would deliver non-line-of-sight operation, two-way communication and open-field 300-foot range while offering extended battery life, the group said. Consumers could control a device without pointing the remote, control different brands of equipment from the same remote, and remotely operate equipment tucked inside closed cabinets or located in nearby rooms.

The technology would also enable RF4CE-equipped products from different suppliers to work together. Inserting a disc into a Blu-ray player, for example, would automatically trigger a TV to switch to the proper input, switch an A/V receiver to surround mode, switch off a cable box and other unneeded components, dim the room lights, and close the curtains. The remote would automatically switch modes to control the Blu-ray player.

In the case of products that stream content to different rooms, the RF4CE remote could use a GUI on a compatible TV screen to control the streaming products from another room.

The alliance expects said shipments of Zigbee RF4CE-based products in the U.S. might begin in the latter half of 2010.

Toshiba already offers ZigBee RF4CE-based remotes with select TV in select markets, the company said.

Development of the ZigBee Remote Control standard started in early 2009 and was completed later that year. The standard is the first based on the RF4CE technology.

The non-profit ZigBee Alliance has signed up more than 370 members.

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