The Remote Control Grows Up
Fewer buttons, slick screens the hallmarks of the evolution of the beloved clicker.
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June 07, 2011 by Lisa Montgomery
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Signs of aging aren’t always pretty. But in the world of electronics, the devices only grow better looking over time. One of the best examples of graceful aging is the remote control. As Pete Baker of Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI), points out, “Twenty-five years ago, most people had few choices for a universal remote control into which they could program the codes for multiple devices. Typically, this meant using the remote that came with their high-end TV. The main objective was to reduce the number of remotes cluttering up the proverbial coffee table, and if you could program a couple of macro commands into a button that was a serious bonus.”

Fast forward to today. While macro commands are still important, it’s no longer the only feature entertainment enthusiasts now covet. “The device must offer a host of other bells and whistles such as a backlit and configurable touchscreen display for intuitive control even in dark environments; RF communications to a central processors so that the A/V components can be hidden in a cabinet or even in another room and still be controlled; a high-degree of macro execution capabilities and automation for functions such as power sending, RS-232 and IP control, and relay control; and last but not least bidirectional control to give the user a connected, interactive experience,” says Baker.

With so much being built into remotes these days, you’d think they’d be bigger and button-laden. It’s the exact opposite. Thanks to touchscreens, most of the buttons can be displayed only when you need them. That menu-driven screen can issue so many commands, in fact, that clickers are now often used as a primary control device for lights, thermostats, and other electronic equipment.
Check out how RTI’s remotes look now compared to 10 years ago.
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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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