Infrared signalling, for better or worse, is the de facto standard for remote control of home appliances. Simple and cheap, though limited in range and to line-of-sight, it makes sense in many situations. Though other forms of control are becoming more common with various smart home technologies, there are many pieces of both legacy and new equipment that use this control scheme.
If you’d like to interface with “normal” equipment via a microcontroller, simply plugging in an IR LED to a microcontroller development board can work. For something a little more refined, the SendIR module is designed to help you output high quality IR signals. This unit can be powered via your microcontroller’s supply or externally (2.5V to 5V), and will work with a single or dual LED emitters as needed.
It’s a nice little breakout for dependable prototyping hardware. The board hosts constant current drivers for the IR LEDs. It also includes a surface mount visible light LED so that you can see when data is being transmitted. Jumpers select between 3.3 V and 5V operation, as well as three different transmit power levels.
If you need other infrared parts, the Analysir Tindie store has quite a few other components available, including an IR starter kit, and an IR learning module. They even have a “Silver Bullet” device — a BNC connector with an IR receiver that allows you to read IR signals directly with an oscilloscope.