Cable-Tec Expo 2009: UEI Pitches Easier Setup For Cable Remotes

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Remote-control manufacturer Universal Electronics Inc. wants to make the process of setting up a new remote control less of a headache for cable subscribers.

The Cypress, Calif.-based company here at Cable-Tec Expo is showing cable operators QuickSet, an on-screen application that steps viewers through adding other devices -- like TV sets and DVD players -- that can be controlled by UEI's universal cable remote.

"The user or the installer can set it up much more quickly and intuitively with this, rather than having to look up multiple codes," UEI chairman and CEO Paul Arling said. "It's a much more wizard-based, graphical interface to set up."

Today, a cable subscriber must hunt through user manuals to search for codes associated with their specific devices, then test them out until they find the right one to control their AV devices.

UEI QuickSet, by contrast, is a menu-driven interface lets users identify the type of device to be controlled by the brand of the target device. The app then prompts the user with a confirmation test to validate that the remote is controlling the equipment correctly.

A benefit to MSOs with QuickSet is that the information that a subscriber has entered is stored in the set-top -- so, if someone needs a replacement remote, the box can automatically program the new one. "You can just hit the button on the remote and the application says, ‘Would you like to set up your new remote like the old remote?'" Arling said.

Arling pointed that most subscribers don't lose their set-top box -- they lose the remote. "It gets thrown out with the newspaper or chewed up by the dog," he said.

The QuickSet feature uses UEI's proprietary XMP-2 infrared protocol to communicate between a set-top or other CE device and the remote-control. According to UEI, the QuickSet code typically takes up less than 100 Kbytes of space on a set-top; the IR database takes up additional space depending on size. "It's a miniscule amount of memory required. It's a rounding error," Arling said.

He said UEI is working with cable set-top manufacturers, including Motorola and Cisco Systems, to incorporate QuickSet.

The first consumer-electronics company to use QuickSet is Japanese audio components manufacturer Onkyo, which will ship universal remotes with certain models of its latest line of audio/video receivers.