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The Race Is On

Who's going to win Convergence 4.0?
By Kuldip Singh Johal
Oct 28, 2018

The remote control was one of the first devices to find its way into our homes. Now, this humble device could be given a new lease of life as our homes become smarter and our televisions become the portal connecting all the devices that help support our day-to-day lives. The remote control has been a key component in the move to convergence so far, with technology in this field developing to allow for interaction with multiple devices and a better user experience.

Most of us will remember a time when changing the channel meant pointing the remote control directly at the television and lining it up precisely. This was due to the use of infrared (IR) technology needing devices to be in the direct line of sight in order to communicate with each other. Needless to say, this could be a frustrating experience, particularly if something was blocking the view.

Now, thanks to the move from IR to radio frequency (RF) such as RF4CE and Bluetooth, this is no longer the case. This technology means users no longer have to point the remote control at a device in order to perform a function. In fact, the device doesn't even have to face the same way. The use of RF also means that more data can be passed between the remote and the TV, which has allowed for the integration of voice technology in remote controls. With these developments, remote controls could now be at the heart of convergence, providing users with a single device with which to perform synergized functions, controlling everything from the television to your home's temperature, security and lighting.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to develop, smart technology is becoming increasingly integrated, and the race to fully converge smart devices is heating up. However, with established technology manufacturers competing against smaller, yet more agile, counterparts, who will win Convergence 4.0?

With more and more smart devices appearing in the home, you might think consumers would welcome convergence. In reality, many consumers are currently turned off by the idea, due to the difficulties they face when configuring and setting up smart devices. For the average person, configuring multiple devices can seem daunting, and the perception that this might require some engineering know-how could deter consumers from buying new devices or attempting to integrate them. Difficulties with configuring, discovering and controlling devices are among the biggest pain points for consumers of smart devices, and this is something that needs to be considered in relation to convergence.

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