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What Are the Different Types of IR Remotes?

By Mal Baxter
Updated May 16, 2024
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Zapping gadgets and devices from a distance, infrared, or IR remotes are typically handheld, push-button units that possess a line-of-sight transmitter to communicate with receiver and controller components. Devices typically fall into categories controlling common household appliances and electronics. Requiring unobstructed aim directly at their target equipment, low-end remotes rely on transmission of infrared signals. These may be coded to prevent interference, or programmed to be compatible with other devices. Interacting with everything from home theater components and televisions to light switches, computers, and door locks, IR remotes can keep control of the technical environment well in hand.

Infrared represents that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum known for thermal, or heat energy; it is sometimes picked up by heat sensors or night vision, but its total range lies from 0.74 micrometers (µm) to about 300 µm. Used for communications, IR data transmission employs light-emitting diodes (LED) to send and receive modulated beams of invisible light. Since it does not penetrate walls, IR transmission suffers little interference and benefits technologies found in populated environments. Receivers pick up light signals, which may then trigger equipment functions. These remotes may be characterized by single channel or multichannel functions, depending on the required degree of sophistication.

IR remotes can be found connecting wireless keyboards to computers. They may unlock car doors from a key chain controller. Television remotes rely on IR signals; units can extend to the radio frequency (RF) range, which does not require line of sight transmission. Control units may be attached to steering wheels to control car stereos for added safety. Others operate remote-control toy vehicles.

Configured with simple or complex arrays of buttons, IR remotes can be programmed to control almost any function of common household technology. Their programmability makes them a versatile solution for operating various equipment or remotes. Wireless extenders also rely on IR and RF transmissions. These antenna units essentially increase range and permit control from all over the house. This lets people operate home theater systems from different rooms with a single remote.

Additionally, IR remotes are designed for compatibility with smartphones. Allowing for any number of configurations, smartphone applications can be programmed with even more custom user digital interfaces. This essentially consolidates control over numerous devices through one smartphone, reducing the amount of time it would take to learn how to operate numerous remotes or components.

Remote-controlled Digital Visual Interface (DVI) switchers function over numerous computer components for interaction with flat panel displays. Using IR remote control devices, such systems give users the ability to work across different monitors, keyboards, and peripheral devices. As such, IR remotes can simplify user interfaces over a wide range of components and equipment configurations.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon289179 — On Sep 03, 2012

Please give me a circuit diagram of an IR transmitter to control a car in four directions.

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