Remote Control

What Does Remote Control Mean?

A remote control (RC) is a small, usually hand-held, electronic device for controlling another device, such as a television, radio or audio/video recording device. Remote controls commonly operates via infrared signals but sometimes by radio frequency signals. The remote control may control a variety of functions such as volume, channel, track number and other functions. Modern remote control devices often have more controlling functions than are found on the device itself, which may have only a few primary essential controls.


A remote control may also be called a clicker, flipper, tuner, changer or converter.

Techopedia Explains Remote Control

The technology behind remote control devices has been around for more than a century. In 1898, Nikola Tesla developed and patented a “Method of an Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vehicle or Vehicles” and publicly demonstrated his method by operating a remote controlled boat in Madison Square Garden at an electrical exhibition. In 1939, a low-frequency, battery-operated radio transmitter, the Philco Mystery Control, became the first wireless remote control for consumer electronic devices. In 1950, Zenith Radio Corporation invented the first television remote control. It was called Lazy Bones, and used a wire to connect to the TV.

Most remote control of electronic appliances is done by infrared signals using an infrared diode that emits an invisible beam of light, typically a 940 nanometer wavelength LED. Multichannel remote controls use sophisticated technology to modulate carrier signals, demodulate the received signals, and use a variety of frequency filters to separate signals for various remote control functions. However, these infrared signals need to be in line of sight to operate the device, and may be reflected by mirrors as would any other light source.

Some remote control is done by radio frequency signals. These do not require line of sight to the device being controlled. They can be focused in one direction, or be multidirectional. Radio frequency remote control is widely used in such applications as garage door openers, automatic barrier control, burglar alarms and wireless home alarm systems.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…