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RF vs IR

Can someone explain to me the advantages and disadvantages of using radio frequency (RF) communications vs. infra red (IR) communications. Comparisons may include bandwidth, FCC regulation, interference, and eavesdropping.
2 Solutions
Are you building devices from scratch?  What type of range do you need?  Do you have any constricting requirements?

Theoretically, there isn't a difference in bandwidth between RF and IR although you will find it easier to build RF devices with high bandwidth.  As you might have guessed, IR does not require FCC approval.  With IR, interference and eavesdropping can only be accomplished within line of sight.

FCC rules for RF transmitters vary by frequency band and often read like, "you are limited to a field strength no greater than 250 micro-volts per meter at a distance of 3 meters from the transmitting antenna."  This makes it kind of hard for average folk to test their own compliance.  In general, the rule is, "thou shalt not interfere" with anybody else regardless of how low power your transmitter is.

It's physically easier to interfere and/or eavesdrop in on RF because line-of-sight is not required.  If this is really a concern then there are anti-spoofing and anti-jamming techniques that you can build into the protocol.  For example, you can use frequency hopping as a defense.
To add more.. IP is active in short distances. RF is not so..


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