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What Is an Infrared Receiver?

By Geisha A. Legazpi
Updated May 16, 2024
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An infrared receiver is a communications device that can respond to emissions very close and below the frequency of visible light. Found in items such as personal computers, home appliances, and cars, the infrared receiver usually relies on a digital coding scheme or a protocol to transfer information or commands across an infrared link. Infrared receivers were used in digital communications due to the ease of setup and the lack of need for licensing, unlike radio transmitters. During fog, rain, or snow, however, the infrared energy is absorbed heavily, leading to link outage. An infrared transmitter can be a semiconductor infrared device that transmits an invisible infrared beam.

The occurrence of a rainbow demonstrates wavelengths close to infrared. It displays the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (ROYGVIB), with red as the lowest frequency in the spectrum of visible light. If the frequency of red light is decreased, it will be in the invisible infrared spectrum.

Infrared technology is also used in thermal imaging. Popular night vision technology uses an infrared source that makes infrared bounce off targets in total darkness. The received image is then obtained using special lenses and a method of generating the image. These images may be still or displayed in real time video to show real-time images.

An infrared receiver may also work in conjunction with a data transmitter to form a data link. A very convenient way of transferring files to and from computers, accessories, and gadgets is the infrared link. One disadvantage of the infrared receiver is the need to align the transmitter beam to the receiver window. The infrared receiver-sensing element usually has a red filter on the outside, and this is partly to prevent ordinary light from desensing the receiver element.

A typical infrared transmitter is the television (TV) remote control, while the infrared receiver is on the TV itself. By coding the right-pulsed data, the user is able to send commands into the TV control. Different TV manufacturers use different codes on the remote control unit.

The infrared receiver is also used for detecting body temperature from a distance. This makes it possible to detect people with higher than normal body temperature, which is very useful in airports where most people are crossing borders into new countries. By using a real-time display and the various subparts of the infrared spectrum, surveillance for public safety can be done easily.

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Discussion Comments

By anon323223 — On Mar 04, 2013

Why would you synch it with your phone, and what would it look like in the dark (when it was on)?

By Mammmood — On Jan 09, 2012

@everetra - I use an IR blaster myself. I have a remote upstairs and a satellite box downstairs. I found that my remote upstairs was getting weak in controlling my bedroom television set.

This was despite the fact that I had changed the batteries and tried to aim it at both the location of the satellite box and even the dish.

Of course the problem is that there is no real line of sight. So I got an IR blaster. This kit lets you blast through walls, literally. I don’t know how it does it but it did the trick. I now no longer have a problem controlling my upstairs television with my remote.

By everetra — On Jan 09, 2012

@allenJo - TV remote controls work well with infrared technology. Frankly I wish they would use Bluetooth instead because there is not a line of sight problem with that technology.

However there is a limitation on how far away you can be from the receiver with Bluetooth. Short of a different technology, I’ve found that you can use an IR extender with your remote control.

This will basically take the infrared beam from your remote and amplify it and extend it so that you have a farther reach. You may not want to sit very far away, but if you’ve found that your remote is not as strong as it should be, then I think that the IR extender will do the trick.

By allenJo — On Jan 08, 2012

Night vision goggle technology works okay, but it sure is weird. The resulting images are white, ghostly and ghastly in my opinion, especially when you look into the pupils of the people you’re looking at.

But, it gets the job done. I think it’s ideal for crime fighting when you need to look for people or evidence at night. I can’t think of any other way to get the job done. Your body is probably warmer than anything else out in the darkness (excluding some animals I suppose) and so it’s very likely that a human body will turn up quite easily as a result of the technology.

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