Remote Control Technology

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Remote control technology has not only grown in television sectors. Remote controlled cars, beds, security systems, windows, doors, toys among other devices have been developed. For example, some cars can be auto started remotely. (Benson-Allott, C. A, 2014).

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Apart from the use of remote controls in luxurious life, they are now major military controlled operations being undertaken using remote control technology. Cruise missiles which are among laser guided bombs can be directed to specific targets unlike in the World War where old dumb bombs were used. Military drones and remote controlled guns have increased the safety of soldiers who attack enemies miles away without putting their lives on the line.

Smartphones are now being changed to universal remote controllers and are being loaded with applications which have different interfaces to control a wide range of electronics. They are being used for home entertainment, turning the cooling system on and off, control lighting in the house by turning switches on and off, to remotely control security cameras used in home and companies, unlocking car doors from far distances, schedule devices to perform tasks at specified times and even control programs on your computer. (Mankiewicz, F., & Swerdlow, J. L. 1978)

People have widely benefited from the use of remote controls both at home and in industries. They have a great influence on current lifestyle. One can control almost everything using a programed remote control including home security, taking long shots in photography, television and even computers. They have made things which seemed impossible like exploration of inaccessible areas and planets possible. NASA has greatly benefited from this technology by using it to carry out many of its projects for example, the 1997 and 2003 Mars Pathfinder (Mankiewicz, F., & Swerdlow, J. L. 1978).

Infrared remotes replaced radio waves remotes especially in home appliances because they had several advantages over them. The following explains the difference between infrared remotes and radio wave based remotes;

Infrared remotes

They are electromagnetic transmissions with longer wavelength compared to that of sunlight. The transmitter (LED) emits signals of invisible light which are received by a photodiode on the transmitter. The signals are then broken down so as to acquire the information being transmitted. They are used in television, VCRs, game players, computers, ECS (emergency control systems), ERS (environmental response systems) like beds and curtains, mobile phones, toys, car lock systems and home security systems among other appliances. The good thing about this type of remote control receiver is that it only respond to the signal produced by a specific transmitter and do not pick up other signals being transmitted by other remote controls. (Mankiewicz, F., & Swerdlow, J. L. 1978)

Advantages of IR remotes

The speed of IR remotes is fast even than that of wire transmission. This makes it suitable in wide range of equipment.

Infrared transmissions require low power hence they are suitable for most appliances for example phones and TV remote controls.

They are secure than the radio wave remotes. This is because the remotes emit a unidirectional beam preventing leakage of any transmission to other nearby devices.

They are portable. IR remotes are small and light hence can be carried around. For example, the car lock remotes are small than the palm hence portable and easy to handle.

No legal requirements required to own an IR remote control because they are safe and non-hazardous to human.

They have a simple circuit. IR remote control do not require highly specialized hardwares. This means that it can be easily introduced to an already existing device.

IR remotes are interference free. Its hard to pick signals from other devices because of the data is well shielded.

Disadvantages of IR remotes

The remotes work only in line of sight (LOS). The user has to aim to the device that the data is being transmitted to. This is usually a problem when operating machineries in inclined planes. The user loses concentration on the work he is carrying out while trying to locate the receiver. (Kruger, B. 1993).

IR remotes have a limited range compared to radio frequency remotes. Its range is around 100-200 feet.

It has a low bandwidth or speed. The transmission is slower than radio wave remotes.

Interference can result from a few known sources like sunlight. The receiver is protected from sunlight to prevent interference from the sunlights wavelengths. Weather conditions interfere with the range of operation. This weather conditions include dust, foggy days and rain. (Mankiewicz, F., & Swerdlow, J. L. 1978).

IR remotes are easily blocked by obstacles such as walls and people. IR requires a clear line of transmission between the remote and the receiver. Any obstacle in between the two will cut off the transmission and the receiver will receive no transmissions.

In places such as underground mine fields and construction sites that are poorly lighted, the operator has difficulties acquiring the position of the transmitter (Mankiewicz, F., & Swerdlow, J. L. 1978). This process becomes cumbersome because the operator keeps trying to locate a clear line of sight.

In case of emergencies or system failure such as heating up in an IR remote controlled nuclear plant, the operator cannot shut the system immediately from where he or she is. He has to look for the transmitter to pass the emergency stop command. This delays shutdown and can lead to worse situations where the whole system can be destroyed.

Radio wave remotes

The transmission of radio waves is as previously discussed. It uses frequencies that are below the visible light. It relies on antenna receiver to pick up the signal from the transmitter. Data is transmitted by systematic cadence of the waves. Wireless radio waves are used in navigation, radars, telephones and digital radio. (Kruger, B. 1993).

Advantages of radio wave remotes

No line of sight required. Radio waves can be transmitted from anywhere and the signal is passed to the receiver without even aiming at it.

Unlike the IR remotes, the radio waves penetrate any obstacles such as walls or people. They are not also not affected by light.

Have longer range than the IR remotes. When radio wave transmissions are made, they can be amplified and transmitted anywhere in the world.

Radio waves are not affected by environmental conditions such as rain and dust unlike IR which are affected.

Radio wave remotes are cheap. Both its hardware and s...

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