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New standard for ZigBee remotes makes friends with connected homes

Stephen Lawson | Sept. 15, 2014
Making life easier is the whole point of both home automation and remote controls, so the group behind the ZigBee home network specification has tried to bring the two together more tightly in a new standard.

ZRC 2.0 is backward compatible with all earlier ZigBee Remote Control standards, so products made to be controlled by earlier remotes will also work with new ones, according to the ZigBee Alliance. The new standard could also help vendors build hybrid remotes that can control both ZigBee-capable products and older electronics that were built for IR. It includes a standard specification for uploading IR codes to the remote, so the remote only has to hold the codes for the IR devices it has to talk to. That should save manufacturers from having to build in a database of every IR code a consumer might need and store it in the remote.

At least one hardware vendor is pushing ZRC 2.0 already. On Thursday, GreenPeak Technologies, in the Netherlands, announced its GP565 Smart Home radio chip for remote controls, which works with the new standard. GreenPeak will sell the chip to vendors that want to build ZigBee remotes. The GP565 also includes technology for voice control, saving consumers a few button presses, and motion control, for gestures such as tipping a remote up to raise volume and down to lower it. The company expects to ship the GP565 in commercial quantities in the first quarter of next year.

 

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