By Chris Nicholls

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS: Sony, Philips, Matsushita and Samsung have announced they will cooperate on a new wireless radio standard for remote controls, eliminating infra red and ensuring consumers will never again have to aim the remote control.

The technology, which will use the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band and iEEE 802.15.4 PHY/MAC standard will, according to the companies involved, allow greater functionality impossible with current infra red systems, as well as use less power and give users “instantaneous” response.

One of the new features possible, ‘display feedback’, will be based on the two-way data transmission the new standard will enable.

The four major manufacturers will work with Texas Instruments, OKI and Freescale Semiconductor to help develop the system, calling themselves the RF4CE (Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics) Consortium.

RF4CE Consortium chairperson, Bas Driesen, said while the initial applications of the system would be “similar to the current infra red technology”, the technology would allow “much richer remote control functionality” in the future.

According to a statement, the system will be in place for adoption by any manufacturer from the second half of this year, although no specific date was given.