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The same way a TV remote control can handle several functions. You modulate (encode) the IR diode at a specific speed then demodulate on the receiving end. Look at the data sheet for the TSOP 17 family. Note how the pulses are used on the carrier frequency. We modulate the carrier then on the receiving end demodulate the carrier with our data. The data is what it is all about. You are on your own as to IR range.