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RFID remotes have line-of-sight in their sights

Batteries schmatteries

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Taiwanese electronics specialist Favite has been demonstrating its latest remote control module using RFID technology to remove the need for batteries - at least for those prepared to bathe their living room in a two-watt energy field.

Using a passive RFID tag to communicate with a TV might seem strange, but at 433MHz the range is sufficient, and a modern tag is perfectly capable of reporting which button is being pressed while collecting energy from the two-watt induction field being generated by the TV every few seconds.

Favite accepts that not everyone is going to want such a high-powered transmitter in the corner of their living room, so it's suggested that a rechargeable version could exist, or one powered with a button cell which it reckons should give ten years of life in normal use.

Most remotes still operate on infrared, which is largely line of sight and very, very, cheap. For TVs that line of sight issue has never really been a problem: why would you want control of the TV you can't see?

However, for stereo and home automation stuff wireless remotes are more common, and some Sony Bravia kit uses Zigbee-based remotes at 2.4GHz these days. Favite reckons its technology is cheaper than Zigbee, and thinner than infrared, as well as getting round the line of sight problem.

433MHz is widely used for wireless light switches and the like, and suffers from a lot of interference, but for basic commands it should be clear enough.

That's good enough for one Taiwanese TV manufacturer, with one of the big names lined up to sign a deal within the next month according to RFID Journal.

So, ask yourself, do you constantly find your remote batteries running dry at the most inconvenient moments? Neither do we, but if we did then this is definitely the technology we'd choose to solve the problem. ®

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