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back to article Dialog Bluetooth chip boasts battery life of four YEARS

Dialog's latest Bluetooth chip is only 2.5mm square and half a millimetre thick, but boasts an embedded processor from ARM and a battery life of more than four years from a button cell. Anyone considering a smart wristwatch or fitness-monitoring wristband will be pleased to hear that Dialog Semiconductor has created a really …

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Silver badge

Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

A single blue tooth remote (or software on a phone) would be entirely capable of controlling a TV, satellite box, receiver, console etc. from a single interface. It could even *ask* the device for the context sensitive functions to present and their spatial layout rather than the usual business of mapping generic buttons to functions. It could even present information from the device such as Now and Next listings, or an EPG, or game status (e.g. paused, teamtalk on/off) to make the remote useful for more than controlling the display.

What I don't get is why this hasn't happened. It's obviously a major step up over infrared and I would have thought an obvious feature for midrange TVs especially the "smart" variety.

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Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

"What I don't get is why this hasn't happened."

Probably a couple of reasons:

1) Progress in the TV industry is *slow*. With good reason, as a TV lasts more than twice as long as your laptop. New features have to be rolled out very slowly to avoid confusing people as well, because most people who use a TV aren't Reg readers.

2) Something like what you suggest, while awesome, would require all major manufacturers coming together to design a standard for this. Of course, obligatory xkcd reference regarding standards:

http://xkcd.com/927/

3) Since the refresh cycle of DVD players, TVs, consoles, etc., is quite low, you would have a converged remote for years before you would have the devices that converged to it. Inertia now solves your problem for you, ensuring that it never starts in the first place.

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Gold badge

Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

I was sure that I saw a remote that did this. Of course, it also had to include NFC (bonk to pair?) technology so that the remote in the livingroom doesn't change the volume of the TV in the bedroom by mistake, since the BT will go through walls. Sorry, I can't remember the manufacturer, and with the limited connection I have here, I cannot search for it (would you believe that Google and Bing are blocked?)

A fair number of newer Panasonic and similar TVs / Blueray recorders have Android apps for remote control, but I cannot vouch for how good it is, because mine was manufactured the week before they added that to the firmware :( I also don't know, but I suspect it uses WiFi for the comms link.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

There was always the issue that bluetooth is complex to implement and power hungry. A million transistor chipset just to replace a bit of wire (or a unidirectional IR link) used to be considered a lot and had to be justified. And the link needs to be up and maintained continuously to avoid unacceptable lack of responsiveness.

There are also a panoply of profiles, none of which ever really fits the bill and all have backwards compatibility modes to support. Device manufacturers choose which they will concentrate on supporting well and tend to leave the ones that they're not interested in. How many phones on sale today support AVRCP > v1.3 for example (media player remote control with textual feedback of the file's metadata), as host or device?

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Thumb Up

Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

Now there's an idea - a universal Bluetooth LE remote with an touch-sensitive e-ink display!

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Silver badge

Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

"1) Progress in the TV industry is *slow*. "

No it isn't. In the last five years, the following features have become virtually standard on all branded TVs - 1080p, 24fps, 100-120Mhz refresh rates, DVB-T2, DNR, USB ports, HDMI 1.3/1.4 + deep colour, HDMI-CEC, MPEG2/ASP/AVC/MP3/AAC media player functionality, LED edge or backlighting, 3D. It is hardly revolutionary to throw in a bluetooth controller into the TV (cost perhaps $.25) to first complement the IR and then in the subsequent generation supplant it.

I should add that things like HDMI-CEC mean that your TV can act as a proxy remote to other devices in the chain. I use my TV remote to control a Raspberry Pi for example, so if the TV was bluetooth enabled then by extension HDMI-CEC could permit the same remote to control the other devices.

"2) Something like what you suggest, while awesome, would require all major manufacturers coming together to design a standard for this"

Bluetooth already existed. We're talking about a protocol and some levels of profile. Hardly insurmountable and even the PS3 which is 6 years old has blue tooth controllers and remotes.

"3) Since the refresh cycle of DVD players, TVs, consoles, etc., is quite low, "

Every year sees a new generation of television sets sporting new features. See 1) for examples of features. Bluetooth would have been a relatively minor thing to add at least in a basic profile which could have been built on.

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Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

"There was always the issue that bluetooth is complex to implement and power hungry."

And yet the PS3 had a bluetooth remote control 6 years ago and the remote runs off 2 AA batteries. Use a good pair of batteries and it lasts a significant amount of time (as in over 12 months). I know this since I use my remote a lot. Certainly not as long as an IR remote, but neither is it the lifespan of a gnat either.

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Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

Davecrave said:

> 3) Since the refresh cycle of DVD players, TVs, consoles, etc., is quite low, you would have

> a converged remote for years before you would have the devices that converged to it.

> Inertia now solves your problem for you, ensuring that it never starts in the first place.

Years? Try decades. The only reason I don't have my first CD player anymore is I gave it away after I got a 200 disc player. Had the first one about 8 years and the 200 disc device is pushing 10. The only reason I got rid of my DVD player is that I got a blueray player and needed the space. Head over to my parents place and the 32 inch tube TV from the 80's is still going strong.

New is not often better when you buy quality to begin with.

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Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

I still have a Ferguson TX 14" portable TX that dates back to about 1983. As far as I know it still works, including the mod board I put in it to make it act as an RGB monitor (before the manufacturer introduced a variant with it built in). I still have the BBC Micro that was used with it too.

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Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

"And yet the PS3 had a bluetooth remote control 6 years ago"

Which is frequently considered *a detriment* because nothing else can control it, because everything else is still designed around IR. That perspective is *exactly* why this hasn't happened yet.

It seems to me the idea of non-IR controls is gaining more steam the last few years, but it also seems a bit more likely to me that this will manifest over full-blown WiFi than over Bluetooth. Every controllable device I have but one is now attached to my home network, even when I didn't aim it to specifically have for that functionality. Granted, not everyone has a home WiFi network, so that still might let Bluetooth fill that slot.

(The one un-networked device? A flat-screen TV that was a 3-ish year old model when I bought it new, specifically chosen because it didn't need smart features and was thus far cheaper. It doesn't need to be smart - every single thing I have that can feed it a picture is an internet-connected smart device - even the receiver that sends A/V from my other sources to the TV.)

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Boffin

Re: Beggars belief that TVs & remotes don't use bluetooth

How many phones on sale today support AVRCP > v1.3 for example (media player remote control with textual feedback of the file's metadata), as host or device?

My 2010 Blackberry 9700 supports it as a host. I'm pretty sure that any phone from that era or newer supports it. It would be pretty weird to have my 3 year old phone toting features that the latest shiny thing doesn't.

And I agree with DrXym. The PS3 has had a BT remote since *2006*. The only real complaint I've heard about it is that it doesn't have an outright "off" button. Pairing the remote to the PS3 is easy. The complaints on the PS3 BT controller being the only one able to control it are a bit misguided, though: it is more that none of the other things have jumped to BT, even as a second-option control. Mostly the complaints are from people who use those one-control-to-rule-them-all thingies, which are only IR. Ironically, BT should be able to handle this as well, and much better than plain old IR.

Heh, TV makers even had the opportunity of a lifetime to do the big switch: the Big Analog Switch-off in the US had people trashing their old CRT TVs and buying new HDTVs...

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Boffin

Not WiFi.

WiFi is too power hungry for remotes, which would end up being more of a battery-muncher than any BT remote. Hell, it manages to be more of a power drain than 3G on smartphones! Also, a WiFi remote would be much more complex. If the average user is intimidated by the weird codes for universal remotes, try getting him to search his TV's IP! Ow!

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Flame

IR

I like IR, Its durable, there's no protocol involved and its easy to replace a lost remote with a cheap universal one.

I'd rather have a programmable IR transmitter on my phone than a bluetooth solution for remote control of my stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IR

How is there "no protocol involved"? Every manufacturer has their own codes, several permutations of modulation and at least two rates. Sounds like a bunch of incompatible protocols to me.

"replace a lost remote with a cheap universal one" and pray that your specific device happens to be in the universal remote's database.

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Re: IR

there's no protocol involved and its easy to replace a lost remote with a cheap universal one.

I'd laugh myself silly if I could only forget the hours I spent trying to program my universal remote then get XBMC to work with it. MCE, RC5, RC6, Sony, Lions Tigers and Bears, oh my.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: IR

There are in fact several protocols involved and associated standards such as the modulated carrier frequency used by the common IR receivers. Having coded several IR remotes, I can say that the most common protocol is the semi-proprietary RC-5 by Philips.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RC-5

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Paris Hilton

Feeling Blue, Are We?

Bluetooth for EVERYTHING.

So why not Paris?

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Gold badge
Meh

So what happens when the battery dies?

I just think there are just too damm many batteries that need replacing.

You want to do running shoe data collection? How about a PZ foil generating enough power to send that data.

People have already shown ZigBee (IIRC) keyboard switches that can do this.

AFAIK they will last till they wear out (although I'm not sure if they can generate enough power with the sort of force a touch typist would normally hit them).

Score for the low power but "meh" for need ing batteries in the 1st place.

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Happy

Late, but on its way.

The industry has been toying with Bluetooth for some time. Unfortunately they got side-tracked by ZigBee's PR and have spent a few years playing with RF4CE. That has given Bluetooth time to get its act together with Bluetooth Smart, which should start appearing in consumer products soon.

The good news for TV manufacturers is that Bluetooth Smart comes as standard in most Smartphones, and both Apple and Android have released APIs for developers. So by switching to Bluetooth, the industry sees the prospect of a future where they no longer need to include any remote control.

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Re: Late, but on its way.

> Bluetooth Smart comes as standard in most Smartphones,

> and both Apple and Android have released APIs for developers

Are the Andoid APIs for BT LE released now? In a usable form (ie, generic Android and not just vendor-specific addo-ons)? Supported by more than one or two devices? I really hope so, because every time I've looked the only 'phones you can use with assorted BT LE gadgets are the later models Apple thingies.

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WTF?

But modern TV's have Ethernet / WiFi built in, so why bother with BlueTooth?

Nothing wrong with IrDa though - it can be bi-directional if required, and carry data just as easily as BlueTooth, and it never changes the volume on the TV upstairs...

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1) not everyone has a device that they can use to control the tv (e.g smartphone). so the manufacturers still need to include the remote.

2) WiFi is incredibly power hungry which means it is not a good replacement for the infrared remote

My complaint with IrDA is the line-of-sight problem. Even with nothing between the remote and the device there are sometimes communication issues which means you have to alter the angle between the remote and the tv for it to work. And then there are some devices that have a poorly designed IR port on the device or the remote so anything other than directly in front of the device doesn't work, e.g. 30+ degrees from perpendicular. Removing the line-of-sight requirement sounds like a plus to me

Controlling the device from another room could be a good thing, e.g. If you distribute Sky to other rooms you don't need those darned Sky eye dongles all over the place. Switching the wrong device is also easily solvable - e.g. through pairing (the remote only ever controls one device at a time)

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Silver badge

Perhaps changing the volume of the TV in another room is a desirable feature in some cases?

i.e. when the TV is otherwise being controlled by a kid who has turned the set up, in another's opinion, far too loud.

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