Techworld

A new use for the remote control: beaming shows to your TV

Sony is making use of NFC and WiFi to bridge the gap between smartphone and TV

If you thought your TV remote control was just for switching channels, think again. Sony has a new system that uses the remote control as a transfer device between a smartphone and television.

The system, which makes use of NFC (near-field communications), was launched Monday at CES in Las Vegas and is featured in Sony's Xperia Z cell phone and several Bravia TVs that were also announced the same day.

The technology means video and TV shows can be transferred to the TV without leaving the couch.

TVs with the feature include the flagship Bravia X900A, which includes a display capable of four times the resolution of today's high-def TV. The "4K" television will go on sale in the spring in the U.S. in two screen sizes: 65-inch and 55-inch, Sony said. A price for the TV set wasn't announced.

"You're watching a video and you want to share it with family and friends," said Phil Molyneux, president of Sony Electronics, during a news conference at CES. "You do this," he said bringing the phone together with a remote control, "and the video appears on the big screen."

The feature is one use of NFC that Sony has built into a number of its products.

It shows a portable speaker, an home audio soundbar, and a pair of headphones that could play music when a phone was touched against them. Whatever music was playing in the phone would automatically be transferred to the audio products.

A final product, the personal content station, is being offered as a home storage system for smartphone data, such as photos. Touching the phone to the device automatically transferred pictures and video from the phone.

Near-field communication is a low power wireless technology that typical works over a distance of a few centimeters. Because it only works over a short range, security isn't usually included and that vastly simplifies data transfer between compatible products. Unlike Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, devices don't have to be set-up in advance to work with each other.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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