CES 2011: Low-Energy IR Remote

As more and more things around the house fall under our mechanical control, radio-frequency (RF) remotes gain in popularity. Just think about how Z-Wave is being used today. But the humble infrared (IR) remote lives on for most of us, and efforts to make it a more attractive option continue. Case in point: Universal Electronics, which came to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show a Low Energy IR Engine – abbreviated by the company as “LowEIR” – that it said could substantially reduce energy use in IR remotes.

Silicon, hardware and new software make it all possible, Universal said: “LowEIR includes a new hardware-based timing state machine implemented in silicon bundled with an adaptive compensation algorithm to ensure accurate IR signal timing representation.”

low energy IR remote, Universal Electronics

image via Philips

Universal said that LowEIR could extend battery life by up to two years on traditional two-battery infrared remote control designs – without sacrificing performance. Significantly, too, the company said the LowEIR doesn’t require modifying target devices in order to function.

“We designed a realistic and economical solution to ensure that LowEIR is extensible to work with all current and future remote controls,” said Graham Williams, senior vice president of technology development at Universal Electronics. “We are committed to helping reduce battery waste by increasing the efficiency of energy usage in the devices that we design and build every day.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.