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Industry News / Marketwatch: International / RFIC Channel

Ruark Audio selects Nordic Semiconductor RF technology for the remote control in its R7 music center

August 7, 2013
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Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA announces that a leading British audio product manufacturer, Ruark Audio, has specified a pair of Nordic nRF24LE1 2.4GHz System-on-Chip (SoC) transceivers for the RF remote control in its forthcoming retro-styled R7 music center, due for launch this fall.

Ruark Audio's existing high quality, small form factor product range have been repeatedly voted class-leaders by some of the world's leading consumer audio magazines, such as What Hi-Fi Sound & Vision?, and the higher-end R7 music center has received according to Ruark a record number of pre-launch registration enquiries from customers eager not to miss one of the first production-run units when they become available later this year.

The forthcoming flagship R7 music center is said to have taken three years to develop and was inspired by the design of 1960s radiograms that were music centers built into high quality wooden cabinets and designed to take pride-of-place in customer living rooms.

"However, the R7 will be anything but old fashioned in terms of its functionality and performance," comments the Founder and Managing Director of Ruark Audio, Alan O'Rourke. "It will feature a high performance CD player, Bluetooth wireless technology with aptX (a leading type of audio compression technology popular for higher quality wireless audio streaming from Bluetooth enabled portable devices such as smartphones), and Wi-Fi for streaming from computers and music servers. There's also a DAB+/FM/Internet radio, and the inputs for a wide range of auxiliary devices including TVs and DVD/Blu-ray players so that the R7 can also double up as home cinema audio solution too."

"But we quickly realized trying to give the customer any kind of simple, convenient and intuitive control over this kind of all-on-one functionality was way beyond the capabilities of a conventional IR [infra-red] remote control," admits O'Rourke. "Which is why we decided to develop our first ever RF remote control: the 'RotoDial'."

"Because we'd never developed an RF remote control before, the RotoDial did pose a bit of a challenge to us at first," adds Paul Bird, Technical Director at Ruark Audio. "While the benefits of RF including non-line-sight access and low latency responsiveness convinced us it was the only viable way to control the menu-driven functionality of the R7, we lacked the in-house RF expertise to develop a solution from scratch."

Bird continues: "This is why we were very happy to learn that Nordic Semiconductor offered a class-leading reference solution that could be modified to meet our needs while offering what we considered to be an IR-comparable battery life of one year from a regular CR2032 watch battery."

"IR is over 30 years old and showing its age," comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. "IR was developed to allow users to flip channels or adjust the volume of their TV sets with single button presses, without having to physically get up and walk over to the product, and later easily extended into the audio world to flip tracks and adjust volume as well. But for navigating modern menu-driven interfaces with thousands of listed options, IR simply cannot cope because it's a task for which is was never designed. RF wireless technology is established, proven, and will be able to cope with whatever new developments a product developer wishes to throw at it for decades to come."

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