An IR blaster (infrared blaster) is a device that emulates an infrared remote control. IR blasters are used in situations where one device controls another. For example, it can be connected to a computer in order to control virtually every other infrared device in the room from that computer. IR blasters are usually small and can power themselves from whatever device they are plugged into.
How an IR Blaster Works
An IR blaster works in much the same way that an infrared remote control does, but the IR blaster features a small converter that converts digital signals into infrared light. Simple pulses of electricity make the digital signals. Infrared light is used because it is invisible, has a high energy transfer rate, can travel through air, and poses no threat to the user. In a properly configured system, an infrared remote control can control a primary device such as a DVR or VCR while controlling other devices (such as a television) through the secondary infrared beam that the IR blaster generates.
IR blasters can control a variety of devices including televisions, VCRs, DVRs, stereos, computers, and home theater projectors. They are most widely used to control a secondary device through a primary device by using an infrared remote control. IR blasters also extend the range of an infrared remote control by placing the IR blaster in a closed area, behind another object, or at an angle that the remote control cannot “see.” As was mentioned earlier, IR blasters can also be connected to a computer via a USB cable in order to control any infrared-enabled devices in the room.
IR blasters are simple in design and easy to use. It is quite convenient as the user does not have to move around the room in order to “lock on” to a device with an infrared remote. IR blasters can be configured to work with specific devices and can even be set up to work with computer applications such as EyeTV and RealBasic. IR blasters do not require a power supply as they draw power directly from their USB connection with a computer.
While IR blasters are simple to use, they can be quite confusing to configure with other devices. IR blasters are usually fairly inexpensive, but prices may vary drastically depending on the type, sensitivity, output power levels, etc. of the IR blaster chosen. IR blasters are generally considered semi-permanent as they are often bolted or glued to an object.