Even before the addition of touchpads, remote controls were pushing the boundaries in terms of size as more and more features were crammed into home entertainment devices and more and more buttons were needed to deal with them. Philips’ remote control division has come up with a way to keep the size of touch-capable remotes down by making the buttons touch sensitive.

Philips calls its new technology RevoTouch (short for revolutionary touch), and has been demonstrating it at IBC 2013. Unlike traditional remote control touchpads, the RevoTouch technology doesn't require a stiff flat area dedicated to only one purpose because it allows rubber and plastic buttons to become touch sensitive. This gives the remote swipe and cursor control capabilities, while retaining the familiarity of conventional button presses.

RevoTouch comes out of Philips Home Control, an independent unit within Philips that was established in 1991 to fill the company’s remote control requirements – something that was previously handled independently by each department. Initially, around 95 percent of the remotes the division produced were for Philips, with the remainder going to OEMs and cable and satellite TV providers. Those figures have now been reversed, with business-to-business customers now accounting for the bulk of the company’s 70 million remotes a year business.

These customers are able to define the touch sensitive area, with anything from a single button to the entire face of the remote possible. RevoTouch can also be combined with voice and/or motion control capabilities and Philips has developed prototypes that work via either infrared (IR) or radio frequency (RF).

Philips is currently working on implementing the RevoTouch technology into various remotes that will probably be on the market within the next year – even if the majority of them aren’t emblazoned with the Philips logo.

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