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Applications of RF4CE in next-gen home networking

Posted: 01 Mar 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ZigBee  RF4CE  set-top boxes 

Tests have demonstrated that a RF4CE remote using technology such as GreenPeak Technology's ultra low-power radios can operate for over 10 years, at over 500 clicks a day, all on a single tiny 3032 coin cell battery. This means no more out-of-power remotes or remotes with broken battery compartment lids—another source of numerous end-user cable subscriber complaints.

RF4CE makes it much easier to program the remote to control other systems in the home as well as new products that come onto the market. As RF4CE supports interactivity, Comcast and other cable companies can easily download the codes for new entertainment devices (TV sets, DVD players, audio gear, etc.) into the set top box which then sends the new codes to the remote. Result—the end user is happy. Fewer customer service calls equal larger profits.

Figure: RF4CE powered set-top boxes and remote controls can provide the central control point for all the home's entertainment, automation and smart applications.

Another cool feature is the "find me" function. Because RF4CE is interactive, it is possible to add a simple button on the TV or set-top box, that when pushed, makes the missing or lost remote start beeping and flashing. This will be a godsend for those with children who keep misplacing the remote.

As RF4CE set-top boxes and remotes continue to roll out, more features can be introduced. These include interactive messaging delivered from the set top box to the remote for programming notifications, advertising, bill payment and product purchases.

In addition, an entire portfolio of "Smart Home" services such as home security, energy monitoring and management, solar panel controls, health monitoring, etc., all controlled through the set-top box, can now be offered by service providers and cable companies. These various services and applications can all communicate to the set-top box via RF4CE and then can be monitored and controlled either by the remote control or via a mobile device over the Internet. As part of the home entertainment package, cable companies will be able to market, supply and install temperature and home environment sensors, security systems, energy management, etc.

No longer just an entertainment supplier, the cable company of tomorrow will become the one-stop source for all the home's smart features and services. From installation to maintenance to monitoring, homeowners will be able to enjoy all the smart automated home's conveniences—all paid for via a single cable bill.

About the author
Cees Links is the founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. He is also marketing chair of Zigbee RF4CE. Under his responsibility, the first wireless LANs were developed which ultimately became household technology integrated into PCs and notebooks. He also pioneered the development of access points, home networking routers and hotspot base stations. GreenPeak Technologies is a fabless semiconductor company and is a leader in highly integrated IEEE 802.15.4/RF4CE silicon solutions for consumer electronics.

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