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This is used to mean a method of communication over an invisible to our eye light beam. Most remotes use this technology to communicate. The downside is that you need direct line-of-site to get the message to the device.
If you want to control your A/V equiment, for example having LinuxMCE turn on your TV & amplifier and set the correct inputs you must have an Ir Blaster such as the USB UIRT or other compatible hardware.
- Full article Control regular A/V equipment
Orbiters have displays. Basically orbiters aren't attached to a specific media director and can go from room to room.