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Remote controls commonly use infrared (IR) signals that depend on a strong line of sight connection to function. A remote control extender typically operates by converting IR to radio frequency (RF), and then back again. Since radio waves do not depend on line of sight to work, this type of device can allow a remote control to operate at a much greater range. This extension of range can involve a single large room, an entire home, or possibly even greater ranges.
Some of the primary uses of a remote control extender are related to home audio and video. An example is large televisions that are designed to be viewed from a distance, which may be difficult to control with the factory remote. This could be due simply to the distance between the remote and the receiver, or the presence of objects in between that prevent good line of sight. An IR to RF remote control extender could be used in this type of situation to allow control from the far side of the room. In some cases, a wired IR extender may also be available for single rooms, especially if a cable box is involved.
Other uses of a remote control extender may involve multiple rooms and greater distances. A simple implementation may be using a remote to control a device in another room, while more complex examples might involve multiple room home theater systems. In a setup where audio and video are offered to multiple rooms via wired or wireless connections, it may be desirable to control the system from any of those areas. Some wireless audio and video transmitters also include IR functionality, though standalone units are typically also available. One IR to RF remote control extender can typically be used for multiple devices.
The uses of a remote control extender are not generally limited to home theater applications. Even when a remote control extender is specifically intended for use with a television or other device, it will typically be able to transmit any IR signal that is sent to it. This means that virtually any IR controlled device can make use of a remote control extender. Some applications may include controlling a ceiling fan or air conditioning unit from another room to adjust the temperature before entering. Certain computers may also have IR remote controls, in which case an extender intended for home video purposes could also be used with one of these.