Today's controllers only send data from the remote to the device, but ECP enables interactive controllers, since it supports two-way communications. By using ECP to specify that a device is a controller, interactive displays are possible, such as a scrolling display for the songs on your iPod or a television schedule displayed on the remote instead of overlaid onto the TV screen. Freescale expects makers of high-end video displays to offload their on-screen programming to LCD-based touchscreens using ECP.
Since ECP is radio-based, it does not require line-of-sight communication, as is necessary for today's infrared remote controls. And because infrared competes with switching transients coming from plasma displays, switching to radio frequencies will solve that problem as well as enable users to control their equipment without pointing at it.
ECP specifies more than 16 thousand public commands, but thus far Freescale has only assigned 600 because those were all that were needed to define virtually every function on any consumer device available today, according to the company. Manufacturers can also specify their own, confidential commands to differentiate their device or enable it to perform special functions. Three 2.4-GHz channels are used simultaneously among devices, providing enough redundancy for transparent interference elimination.
The platform will debut on consumer electronics devices this fall, but Freescale isn't yet divulging the details of any design wins or saying how many more announcements will be made before Christmas. Initially, the products will come with an ECP-compatible remote control; but if the standard catches on, then eventually consumers would be able to buy an ECP-compatible device without a remote at all, since it could be controlled with any other ECP-compatible controller the consumer already ownedor sometimes, as in the DVD-to-dimmed-lights example, without the remote at all.