NXP shows ZigBee RF4CE two-way remote control for smart homes

NXP shows ZigBee RF4CE two-way remote control for smart homes

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After luminaires with individual IP address, the next step towards really smart homes could be anything that enables a two-way communication link between electricity consumer and user. A significant contribution towards this end could be a smart remote control. NXP has one - a demonstrator that uses ZigBee and a wireless controller.
By eeNews Europe


What if you only needed a single compact remote control for all the appliances in your home – a “smart” remote control which displays current settings, and tells you if an appliance is consuming too much power or needs maintenance? NXP Semiconductors has introduced a smart remote control demonstrator, featuring the JN5161 wireless microcontroller using ZigBee RF4CE, as well as a capacitive touchscreen that can be used to control and display information about multiple home appliances. For applications ranging from home entertainment to lighting and residential air conditioning systems, the demonstrator shows how bi-directional communication can transform the remote control into a truly “smart” device that can also help consumers monitor and manage their total energy consumption in real time.

NXP’s smart remote control demonstrator shows:

  1. Bi-directional communication and operation outside the line of sight using ZigBee RF4CE. Many device manufacturers are turning to RF4CE as an alternative to traditional infrared (IR) technologies, which require consumers to point the remote control at an exact target from relatively short distances. ZigBee RF4CE enables remote controls to operate reliably from long distances – even around corners or through walls – without relying on line of sight. With its graphical LCD display, the NXP smart remote control demo also shows the wide range of information that can be communicated from the appliance back to the remote control. For a home entertainment system, this might include information about different channels, specific content, volume and other settings. For residential or commercial air conditioning systems, this could include temperature and humidity levels, power consumption history, and any problems with components that require maintenance.
  2. Straightforward long-distance operation. The smart remote control enables long-distance operation in indoor environments – from 20 meters away, even through walls – while consuming only one-tenth the power of Wi-Fi, without unnecessary complexity or the need for a separate router. The reference design can be easily implemented using RF4CE or any of the other IEEE 802.15.4 software stacks available with the JN516x wireless microcontroller platform, including JenNet-IP and ZigBee PRO, which also enable long-distance operation beyond the line of sight.
  3. Ultra-low power consumption for longer battery lifetimes. The smart remote control is designed for highly efficient battery operation. The JN516x wireless microcontrollers offer a 32-bit RISC processor with ultra-low active power consumption of 17 mA RX and 15 mA TX. In addition, the PCF8885 capacitive touch sensor, with its ultra-low active power consumption below 6 uA, can also contribute significantly to longer battery life.
  4. Connectivity between appliances to enable control of multiple units. With 64 kB of flash and 8 kB of RAM, the JN5161 wireless microcontroller is ideal for basic remote controls using RF4CE. For more complex systems – a single remote used to control, configure and monitor multiple air conditioning units, for example – NXP also offers additional memory options to support more sophisticated network stacks that enable communication between units. With 160 kB of flash and 32 kB of RAM, the JN5164 is recommended for use with JenNet-IP, ZigBee Home Automation and ZigBee Light Link.
  5. Controlling appliances from a smartphone or tablet, via a gateway. For consumers who want the option to control their home appliances via their smartphones, appliance makers can easily implement the smart remote control using the JN5168 wireless microcontroller, which offers 256 kB of flash and 32 kB of RAM. This allows smart appliances and devices to join the “Internet of Things” to communicate with the consumer’s smartphone or tablet, via a central home gateway which serves as a bridge between 802.15.4 and the Internet. Gateways, bridges and routers are available from many NXP partners, and a new gateway reference design will become available from NXP in May 2013.
  6. Design that can be reused across multiple devices. The flexible design of the NXP smart remote control means that it can be programmed flexibly to accommodate individual appliances, or various configurations of multiple appliances. For designers, the JN516x wireless microcontroller platform provides hardware compatibility across family members, with the same package footprint and the same toolsets for programming and debugging.

A video explaining the demo can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/0rU3jTwl-z4

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