Motorola to add telephony to STB remotes

Motorola is planning on adding telephony features to its rechargeable remote control for IPTV set-top boxes, the company has confirmed to IPTV News, and expects to start production in the fourth quarter of this year, with potential shipment in the first half of 2010.

The company introduced its Motorola R331 VIP remote control at the CES show last January, which includes a speaker and comes with a base station as well as a 'find' feature. Mostafa Reza, Product Line Manager at Motorola's IP Video Solutions group, said voice-enabling the remote will require adding a microphone and Bluetooth wireless connectivity to let the base-station cradle communicate with the handset. "If I had to put VoIP into the set-top box, the cost would be so astronomical nobody would want to add that," he said. "But I can add that into the remote pretty cost-effectively. Of course it adds cost, but the real question is, Is the customer willing to pay an extra XYZ dollars for this feature?"

A Motorola spokesperson confirmed to us today that the remote can be made compatible with any platform, not just the Microsoft Mediaroom platform which the company is working with to deliver caller ID on the TV screen: "We will work with each customer individually to give them a remote that fits their specific needs while utilising the protocol that is compatible with their specific set-tops," added the spokesperson.