ZigBee Remote Control Overview  

ZigBee Remote Control provides a global standard for advanced, greener and easy-to-use RF remotes that removes line-of-sight restrictions while also delivering two-way communication, longer range of use and extended battery life. It was designed for a variety of consumer electronic devices including HDTV, home theater equipment, set-top boxes and other audio equipment. 

ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 is an expansion of the initial release, including new features that update the pairing process, standardize communication with sleeping devices, simplify IR support, improve communication with ZigBee Home Automation networks and enhance security, all while maintaining backwards compatibility with ZigBee Remote Control 1.x  devices.

Since ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 replaces 30+ year old infrared technology, it frees consumers from pointing remotes at devices. It offers consumers more flexibility, allowing control of devices from nearby rooms and placement of those devices almost anywhere - including behind wood, interior walls or glass. A greener choice, ZigBee Remote Controls are more energy efficient and last longer than infrared.  You can read more of the details of ZigBee Remote Controls in our white paper.

The ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 standard was designed exclusively for use on the ZigBee RF4CE specification.


ZigBee Remote Control simplifies how consumers control and use CE devices of many types. Here are three scenarios demonstrating how ZigBee Remote Control delivers advanced control:

  1. Home Theater Experience
    • Simply insert a DVD into player
      • TV automatically selects correct input for viewing DVD
      • Surround sound system automatically switches to DVD listening mode
      • Remote control automatically switches modes to control DVD
      • Set top box and other components not needed switch off
      • Lights dim to desired setting
      • Curtains/shades close 
  2. Media Center Control
    • Hardware typically in different room from entertainment center
    • Contains content like music, photos and movies that is streamed to or from entertainment center
    • Advanced remote control with LCD or DTV/STB GUI overlay capability allows for remote navigation of content
  3. In-System Remote Control Programming
    • Remotes can ship without code and learn supported product features on initial power up
    • OEM can send firmware updates that add features or fixes bugs after product ships



  1. What is ZigBee announcing and what is the significance of the announcement? ZigBee is announcing the release of ZigBee Remote Control 2.0, updating the previous 1.0 and 1.1 standards that were released in 2008 and 2011. The updated standard includes features that improve usability for both manufacturers and consumers and builds upon success of previous versions based on experience deploying millions of ZigBee-based remote controls around the world.
  2. How is ZigBee RF4CE different than ZigBee PRO and ZigBee Home Automation? ZigBee RF4CE is a simple, non-meshing network layer protocol that allows the development of user interface products (like remote controls and other input devices) with very low latency, while not requiring line-of-sight (like infra-red based remote controls). Both ZigBee RF4CE and ZigBee PRO /Home Automation 1.2 use the same IEEE 802.15.4 radio.
  3. Why is the standard being updated? Since its release in 2008, there have been over 100 million RF4CE devices shipped by many manufactures. During this time, vendors have worked together to enhance the specification to not only improve the user experience by adding new features, but also ease the integration and configuration for the manufactures. While the standard was originally developed by the TV-makers (Samsung, Sony, Philips and Panasonic), this updated revision of the standard includes the specific requirements of the Multiple-System Operator (MSO), like cable operators and telecom companies.
  4. How is this simpler or better than the previous versions? Updates have been made to simplify and improve both the user’s experience as well the as the manufacturing of devices. For the users, easier binding of devices and programming of IR codes means less time spent setting up the remote to work with their equipment. Features like “find my remote” allows users to quickly locate the misplaced remote vs digging under all the sofa cushions. For manufactures, “out of band” binding allows them to easily setup devices that ship together, while 2-way communication for over the air downloading of IR codes allows them to simplify the BOM for the remote control. 
  5. Is it backwards compatible with the previous version? Yes. ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 devices will determine what features are supported during the binding/pairing process and will communicate based on those common features.
  6. How does this fit in with Internet of Things (IoT) and the Smart Home? The IoT and the Smart Home means that device in the home are connected to one another and can be accessed remotely via the Internet. This can be done via wire or wirelessly and there are already many technologies available for implementing this. ZigBee Remote Control is a wireless technology that is specifically designed for the for the requirements of human interface devices like remote controls and permit these devices to participate in the IOT. This can for applications like voice recognition application where a remote control has a microphone and the voice interpretation is done in the cloud.
  7. Can I access ZigBee Remote Control devices from the Internet? Yes, ZigBee remote control devices control target devices (TV’s, STB’s, etc.), and when these targets are connected to and run applications over the Internet, then the remote controls can be accessed from the Internet as well.
  8. Can it connect with other devices in the smart home? If so, what devices? ZigBee Remote Control supports common ZigBee Home Automation commands allowing it to be used to control numerous smart home devices, including turning off/on lights, opening blinds and even changing the temperature on the thermostat, all from the comfort of your couch.
  9. Who has adopted ZigBee Remote Control today? ZigBee Remote Control has been adopted by many of the large Multiple-System Operator (MSO’s) in the USA and the rest of the world. Specifically leading MSO’s like Comcast (cable operator) and EchoStar (Dish, satellite operator) have significantly contributed in developing this standard.
  10. What products can I buy with ZigBee RF4CE technology? TV’s, set-top boxes, remote controls. Most of these products are provided as part of a subscription with an MSO.
  11. What are some typical use cases? ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 is a low-cost, low complexity solution that can control single devices or entire networks. Typical uses include control of a single device such as a television or set-top box or control many different devices and different types of devices such as audio/video devices and smart home systems. 
  12. ZigBee RF4CE vs BLTLE – I have been hearing about BTLE or BT Smart, how is this different? Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart (also called Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE) is a short-range communication technology for mobile and wearable devices, such as a wireless headset or a heart rate monitor communicating to a smart phone. ZigBee Remote Control is specifically for human interface devices that require a very short latency, it is part of the larger ZigBee networking standard and fully integrated with ZigBee Home Automation networking protocol.
  13. How do I “Find My Remote”? One pushes (for example) a button on the controlled devices (eg. the TV or Set-Top Box) – the set-top box sends a signal to the remote control: “please make yourself be known”. Depending on how this then is implemented, the remote control will make a noise, blink a light, etc.
  14. If Version 2.0 lets me connect to "other devices" in the home, what are the devices that Version 1.0 let me connect to? The original standard ZigBee RF4CE ZigBee Remote Control 1.0 was specifically developed for remote controls and targets, where the targets were consumer electronic devices like TVs, Set-Top Boxes, DVD players, home theater systems, etc. ZigBee RF4CE ZigBee Remote Control 1.0 is now integrated with ZigBee PRO ZHA 1.2. This means that standard remote controls can be developed that now also can remotely control devices that are supported by ZigBee Home Automation: from lights to security systems, from thermostats to door locks, etc.
  15. What are the enhancements? ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 is an expansion of the initial release, including new features that update the pairing process, standardize communication with sleeping devices, simplify IR support, improve communication with ZigBee Home Automation networks and enhance security, all while maintaining backwards compatibility with ZigBee Remote Control 1.x devices. 
    • Updates binding/pairing process between devices 
      • Eliminates the need for a person’s involvement to start the binding process between devices, i.e. a button press.
      • Provides for “out of band” binding between devices, allowing manufactures to pair devices in manufacturing.
    • Simplified IR programming to support legacy devices 
      • IR codes can be uploaded to a remote control over the air, simplifying the process and reducing the cost by eliminating the need to store large IR databases on the remote control.
    • Standard polling method to support 2-way communication on sleeping devices
      • Standards based two-way polling communication to enable “find my remote” feature as well as upload new firmware images, etc. to the remote 
    • Improved compatibility with ZigBee HA networks.
      • Support for standard ZigBee HA commands enables ZigBee RF4CE to become a remote control in the ZigBee Home Automation network.
    • Enhanced Security
      • Enhanced security enabling security key update after a successful binding and eliminates replay attacks.