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Philips gets touchy about remote control buttons


September 19, 2013

An IR remote control prototype with RevoTouch technology that turns the circular directional and OK buttons acting into a touchpad

An IR remote control prototype with RevoTouch technology that turns the circular directional and OK buttons acting into a touchpad

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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.

Source: Philips Home Control

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Sounds clever but considering a remote is often used without looking at it or perhaps even low light conditions. This might be better than a remote with a touch pad but I think it could easily turn out to be confusing rather than helpful. Still it is great there is new ideas

What we need are remotes that are as ergonomic and nicely made as those from B&O. I mean even buying a high end TV from a big brand the included remote feels like it was made to come with a $100 TV set meaning operating the TV has the quality feel of assembling a Happy Meal toy.


The article does not make it clear whether this is a touch screen, rubber buttons, or both. Touch screens belong with small screens. Remotes need small screens, and touch screens offer infinite customization.


Agree with BZD re the problems with operating the remote in poor light.

Problem is, manufacturers tend to put far too many functions onto the remote rather than the appliance itself- which usually has far more space for buttons, and too many buttons control functions that virtually no-one will ever use. My DVD remote has the 'chapter repeat' button right above the pause button (no buttons are backlit on my remote) so I am forever having to reload the DVD in order to get to the following chapter.

Rather than adding extra input controls via touch-screen, rubber buttons or whatever, why not use a sliding panel with the major functions on top, with the minor (or in most cases, never used) buttons underneath?

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