A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, DVD player and home theater systems originally used for operating the device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance. Remote control has continually evolved and advanced over recent years to include Bluetooth connectivity, motion sensor-enabled capabilities and voice control.
Commonly, remote controls are Consumer IR devices used to issue commands from a distance to televisions or other consumer electronics such as stereo systems, DVD players and dimmers. Remote controls for these devices are usually small wireless handheld objects with an array of buttons for adjusting various settings such as television channel, track number, and volume. In fact, for the majority of modern devices with this kind of control, the remote control contains all the function controls while the controlled device itself has only a handful of essential primary controls. Most of these remote controls communicate to their respective devices via infrared signals and a few via radio signals. Earlier remote controls in 1973 used ultrasonic tones. The remote control code, and thus the required remote control device, is usually specific to a product line, but there are universal remotes, which emulate the remote control made for most major brand devices.
The main technology used in home remote controls is infrared (IR) light. The signal between a remote control handset and the device it controls consists of pulses of infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye.
The earliest example of remote control by radio waves was developed in 1898 by Nikola Tesla and described in his patent, U.S. Patent 613,809, named Method of an Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vehicle or Vehicles. In 1898, he demonstrated a radio-controlled boat to the public during an electrical exhibition at Madison Square Garden. Tesla called his boat a â€œteleautomatonâ€.
In 1903, Leonardo Torres Quevedo presented the Telekino at the Paris Academy of Science, accompanied by a brief, and making an experimental demonstration. In the same time he obtained a patent in France, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States. The Telekino consisted of a robot that executed commands transmitted by electromagnetic waves. With the Telekino, Torres-Quevedo laid down modern wireless remote-control operation principles and was a pioneer in the field of remote control. In 1906, in the presence of the king and before a great crowd, Torres successfully demonstrated the invention in the port of Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore. Later, he would try to apply the Telekino to projectiles and torpedoes, but had to abandon the project for lack of financing.
The first remote-controlled model aeroplane flew in 1932, and the use of remote control technology for military purposes was worked intensively during the Second World War, one result of this being the German Wasserfall missile.
By the late 1930s, several radio manufacturers offered remote controls for some of their higher-end models. Most of these were connected to the set being controlled by wires, but the Philco Mystery Control (1939) was a battery-operated low-frequency radio transmitter, thus making it the first wireless remote control for a consumer electronics device.