Technological Trends - Future of Technology

By: Ron Jordan

It all started with the remote control. A vast majority of home electronics today require the use of remote controls, devices which have grown increasingly advanced and powerful since their invention in the late '70s. It's nothing new that televisions, stereos and DVD players feature remotes as an essential component, but in the last five years, it's gaming systems that have turned remote control into an art form.

The first official first-party wireless game controller was the WaveBird controller for the Nintendo Gamecube, released in 2002. The WaveBird's advances have had a lasting impact; in the current generation of gaming systems (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, primarily) wireless controls are the industry standard.

Furniture design, in a lot of cases, has yet to catch up. Many TV stands and cabinets feature wooden or frosted glass doors. These can look lovely, but they interfere with the infrared transmission that wireless controls rely on. This goes double for the especially sensitive multi-LED sensors, like those on the Wii. Many consumers make the mistake of purchasing a good-looking cabinet with wooden doors, whether for its classic look or for appealing security features such as locks, but these people are then forced to leave the doors open all the time to use their DVD players or video game systems, or even to remove the doors entirely, leading to a piece of furniture which looks broken or incomplete. I'm sure you've seen such solutions; perhaps you've even done it before. Older furniture designers just didn't plan for the future, did they?

There are other considerations too. Many current pieces of audio-visual furniture make use of transparent glass doors, which are a good solution to the remote problem, as they don't block infrared transmissions. Glass is typically a feature of transitional and contemporary furniture; it is very popular for its neutrality, looking as subtle as a cottage window or as futuristic as a space shuttle windshield. Most furniture glass today is of the tempered safety glass variety, which is hard to scratch and even harder to break, making it a safe solution for a family living room.

However, the one thing glass doesn't offer is concealment. Unless you're an organizational genius, the typical gaming and electronics stand becomes a repository for wires and cables, and manuals and controllers. Fun, but not something you want to show off when Grandma comes over for tea, unless your grandma loves Halo 3 (and if she does... give her a hug, courtesy of Cymax).

An increasing number of entertainment center designs lack doors entirely. This solves the door problem, but again, the concealment problem arises -- and this time with even less security. You won't be able to hide away electronics, wires and equipment when you need to, such as a surprise visit from the little cousin who tried to eat your Reservoir Dogs DVD like an Oreo last time. You'll have to keep your stand ship-shape all the time instead of shutting the door on an unsightly tangle of wires. What are you gonna do?

Don't worry, you can have it both ways. Transparent glass, frosted glass, or wooden doors are all viable solutions thanks to infrared technology. If you're going for a classic home style or desire furniture with opaque cabinet doors, infrared extender kits are a great choice. IR extension technology has been available since the '80s, but is often overlooked as a home electronics solution since IR extenders are usually designed by third parties.

An IR extender generally consists of a small receiver set up on a shelf or tabletop, which catches the IR signals of your remote and sends them (via wire or radio wave, which bypasses walls and doors) to your electronics. This even works for sensitive controls which require immediate reaction time. The Wii, for instance, has an official infrared bar that can be placed anywhere. With an IR extender, virtually any style of living room furniture can be a great addition to a gamer's living room.

It all adds up to a great set of options for your home electronics. Balancing good looks with functionality has always been furniture's toughest call, but just because technology changes doesn't mean your taste in furniture has to. If you're after a perfect entertainment center or that special piece of game-friendly furniture, check out , a proud part of the online furniture distribution network. Who says you can't have a Louis XV Rococo style furniture scheme and a game of Dead Rising going on a plasma TV amidst it all? Your needs are complicated, but at Cymax, the solutions can be simple.

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