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TV Remote Controller Uses RFID to Become Battery-Free

Favite's system can utilize a passive RFID tag to control the operation of a television, DVD player or other electronic device.
By Claire Swedberg
For the third option, the RFID-based remote-control module and other circuitry are powered by a small cell battery that is expected to last for 10 years' worth of use. By providing options of using a capacitor or cell battery, Tseng explains, Favite intends to address the concerns of consumers who would prefer not to be exposed to the 2-watt RF wake-up signal required to power the passive RFID module.

When a user operates the remote control to operate a TV, the data transmitted by the device's RFID tag indicates which of the keypad's buttons was pressed, in addition to the remote control unit's unique ID number. The television can be programmed to receive instructions from the specific controller with that unique tag ID number, or from any RFID-enabled controller. The device's RF signal is transmitted in all directions, and can also penetrate walls, sending instructions to televisions, DVD players or audio equipment in neighboring rooms.

The advantages to television and other entertainment electronics users are two-fold, Tseng says. Unlike infrared-based controllers, an RFID-based version need not be pointed at—or require a relatively clear line of sight with—a TV. What's more, Favite's design eliminates the need for disposable batteries that must be frequently replaced. In addition, the RFID-based controller is thinner than the infrared version.

"The module is available now," Tseng says, noting that by March 2009, the Taiwan TV manufacturer intends to incorporate Favite's RFID module into its own remote controls, and Favite's RFID interrogator into its TV sets.

According to Tseng, Favite also plans to offer its own version of the remote control unit. Favite's model, he says, will be able to accommodate up to 256 buttons and be programmed for either free control mode (to be used by any machine) or limited control (allowing it to speak only to specific electronic devices). The cost for the Favite controller will be about 30 percent higher than for traditional infrared remotes, Tseng estimates.

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