WELLINGBOROUGH, UK — A recent report from IMS Research (‘The World Market for Low-Power Wireless – 2011 Edition’) forecasts that over 250 million RF4CE ICs (first launched in 2009) will be shipped in 2015. This growth will be driven by a strong transition in remote controls from infra-red (IR) to radio-frequency (RF), which can operate outside the line of sight and can offer bi-directional communication. There is also strong industry support for RF4CE in future remote-control products.
By 2015, annual shipments of RF4CE are forecast to be higher than those of other low-power wireless technologies using the IEEE 802.15.4 physical layer. Lisa Arrowsmith, Senior Market Analyst at IMS Research, explains, “Use of other low-power wireless technologies that use IEEE 802.15.4 – such as ZigBee, WirelessHART, ISA100 and proprietary solutions – are all set to grow in the coming years. However, in 2015, over half of all IEEE 802.15.4 ICs being shipped are forecast to use RF4CE. Yet RF4CE is not a direct competitor to most of these other technologies, aside from a relatively low number of IEEE 802.15.4 ICs used with proprietary software for consumer electronics controls. The other low-power technologies based on IEEE 802.15.4 are active in very different areas: for example, WirelessHART and ISA100 are both aimed at industrial environments (process industries, in particular); and ZigBee is being adopted in smart metering gateways, associated ‘HAN’ devices, and other residential and commercial automation products”.
The RF4CE Consortium was founded by major consumer electronics companies, including: Panasonic Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., and Sony Corporation (before being absorbed into the ZigBee Alliance in early 2009). Since the specification was completed, additional consumer electronics providers, such as Vestel, SMK, and Toshiba, have announced the use of RF4CE in certain product ranges.
There is a notable trend towards the use of RF technologies instead of IR in some consumer devices; however, that is not to say that there will be smooth sailing for RF4CE, with other competing RF technologies such as Bluetooth low energy weighing in. However, the early activities of RF4CE, combined with significant industry enthusiasm for the technology, means that IMS Research forecasts annual RF4CE IC shipments to increase to over a quarter of a billion units in 2015. About IMS Research IMS Research is the leading independent provider of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry. The company’s headquarters is in the UK, with offices in the US, China, Japan (1Q2011), South Korea and Taiwan. IMS Research regularly publishes detailed research on low-power wireless markets, among others.
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