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[Technology] How does ReplyŽ radio frequency (RF) technology compare against competitive infrared (IR) technology-based systems?

It is an engineering fact that as a wireless data transmission medium, radio is far superior to infrared.

The two-way RF ReplyŽ technology that's used in the various audience voting and student response systems manufactured by Infowhyse is recognized by group response industry experts for the greater performance, flexibility, reliability, and range it provides compared to other RF and all IR systems.

Performance
Infrared keypads do not usually have an indicator to confirm to the user that their response was received by the base station.

  • ReplyŽ's two-way RF design allows each keypad to (1) send responses to the base station and (2) receive a message (a/k/a an acknowledgement) from the base station that the keypad's entry was accepted. ReplyŽ keypads, have visual indicators to confirm both the user's entry as well as the base station's confirmation to the user that the entry was absolutely received.

    Simplicity
    IR is often an acceptable alternative for very small, fixed groups...but IR immediately becomes cumbersome when audience size increases and/or audience seating must be flexible. To set up a moderate-sized meeting room of, let's say, 200-300 people, an IR system requires numerous collectors/repeaters. Additionally, IR keypads must be placed in proximity to those collectors/repeaters with care since (1) barriers commonly disrupt IR transmission and (2) IR transmits data at an effective range of often no more than 50 feet.

  • ReplyŽ uses a single base station that can process responses of up to 1500 radio keypads per base station located up to 500 feet distant (Note: Maximum capacity per base station and range depends on model. See Product Information for specifications.). Up to 15 base stations can be combined to increase maximum audience size per room to 22,500 (Again: Depends on model). But what's remarkable is that all you need to do is place the base station in the room, connect it to your laptop, pass out ReplyŽ keypads, and you're ready to poll.

    Reliability
    Infrared is a line-of-sight device. Responses from IR keypads can potentially be "lost" when barriers to transmission exist or when the IR keypad is too far from its receiver (think of your TV controller and how well it operates). IR keypads attempt to overcome their line-of-sight and range limitations by scattering multiple receivers and/or repeaters throughout the room. Most meeting services professionals in our industry haven't recognized the "daisy chaining" of receivers to be a reliable or attractive strategy to overcome the limitations of IR. That's because these professionals know they can't keep everyone still (to prevent common barriers to IR transmission like bodies, chairs, and stage materials) and/or the client can't tolerate bunches of infrared processors/repeaters placed in the audience's view.

  • ReplyŽ radio keypads are free to move around large and/or populated meeting rooms without fear of encountering range or barrier limitations. The patented RF design ensures votes are not "lost" as in some cases common to IR. Additionally, all base stations and antennas may be hidden from the audience's view.

    Range
    Infrared is very limited in range. Light diffuses over distance, and the coded information may be abruptly lost if the signal is weak...even when the IR system "retries" its transmission (again, remember your TV controller). IR generally transmits data at an effective "first try" range of 30-50 feet.

  • ReplyŽ keypads can transmit and receive data on the "first try" when located 150-500 feet from the base station (Note: Range varies according to model). This range usually doubles when the base station is elevated and centered on the audience, and even greater range is possible when optional gain antennas are substituted for the standard omnidirectional whip antennas. That means ReplyŽ systems can cover an area of 90,000-250,000 square feet (Again: Depends on model).

    Value
    Infrared keypads cost little to manufacture since IR technology is cheaper than radio technology. As a result, they could be an attractive solution...so long as they are being sold at a price commensurate with their lower value.

  • ReplyŽ is attractive because it offers superior meeting performance at an affordable price. Considering all of the product's advantages noted above, ReplyŽ is the best value wireless system available to audience response and electronic voting markets today.

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