At last month’s Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), Nordic Semiconductor demonstrated a free-space pointing firmware upgrade for its nRFready 2.4-GHz RF Smart Remote reference design. This design leverages Nordic’s nRF24LE1 SoC and Gazell 2.4-GHz RF protocol stack and includes all the hardware for freespace pointing and clicking control (see figure). The latter is built in via an on-board six-axis motion-sensing solution from Invensense, an ultra-low-power (ULP) accelerometer from STMicroelectronics, a multitouch enabled TouchPad from Synaptics, and a miniaturized QWERTY keyboard.

“What this firmware upgrade offers customers is a fast-track way to add freespace control to their nRFready 2.4-GHz RF Smart Remotes that will work straight away, without them having to get involved with any firmware design or development,” explains Nordic R&D Engineer Rune Brandsegg.

According to market research firm DisplaySearch, the market for Internet-enabled TV sets (more commonly referred to as “connected TVs”) is forecast to exceed 123 million shipments by 2014 reflecting a sustained 30% compound annual growth rate over that period. This shipment number does not include other increasingly popular types of Internet-enabled consumer electronics (CE) devices, such as STBs and media players.

An essential part of all these products, however, is the remote control—it enables end users to take advantage of, and enjoy with ease, the full range and potential of digital content and services such products now support.

“With the growing popularity of Internet-enabled TVs and set-top boxes, we are seeing an explosion in demand for advanced remote controls based on ultra-low-power radio solutions,” comments Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Nordic’s Director of Product Management. “And free-space pointing is a particularly natural and intuitive way to navigate and browse all types of modern digital content and services—including audio, video, gaming, web browsing, social media, and online shopping—as it offers familiar mouse-like PC control without the need for a flat surface.”

The nRFready 2.4-GHz RF Smart Remote reference design kit includes a Nordic Smart Remote baseboard, Smart Remote 2.4-GHz RF radio module, 2.4-GHz RF USB dongle, programming adapter and a set of design files, software source code, and supporting documentation.