Your next Fire TV remote may never need replacement batteries or charging, thanks to a built-in solar panel

Among the never-ending stream of new gadgets coming out of the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I spotted what is clearly an unbranded Fire TV Voice Remote with a built-in solar panel. The prototype remote comes from Ambient Photonics, a relatively young company with ambitions to “bring low light energy harvesting technology to mass scale.” In place of standard AA batteries, the Fire TV remote being demonstrated features a small high-density photovoltaic cell that harvests ambient room light to power the device without the need for replacement batteries or manual charging.

Social media post from Ambient Photonics’ CEO featuring the prototype Fire TV remote

While the remote being shown off is very clearly a modified version of the slightly older 2nd-gen Alexa Voice Remote, there is currently no indication that Amazon has actually partnered with Ambient Photonics on a future Fire TV remote. However, Amazon is a lead investor in Ambient Photonics through its Climate Pledge Fund. If that and the prototype remote weren’t enough of a connection to foster speculation, the General Manager of Fire TV devices just announced his departure from Amazon to join Ambient Photonics as its new Chief Product Officer, so there is a very strong bridge between the two companies and Fire TV specifically.

While putting small solar panels on remotes certainly isn’t a new concept and already exists in production remotes, like Samsung’s SolarCell TV remote, those tend to place the solar panel on the back of the remote to maximize the size of the photovoltaic cell. That requires you to remember to flip the remote over when you’re done using it, which is far from a practical solution. The cell placed on the front of the prototype Fire TV remote seems to indicate that the technology may have now advanced to the point where the concept works without sacrificing practicality or comfort. That said, the latest Fire TV remotes now have even less open surface area for the placement of even a small photovoltaic cell, due to the relatively recent addition of app shortcut buttons along the bottom. If the next Fire TV remote does include a solar panel on the front, it may need to grow a bit in length.


1/12/23 This article originally featured two images of the prototype Fire TV remote. These images have been removed at the request of an Ambient Photonics employee. The images can be viewed here (mirror) and here (mirror).

  1. Flux Yeah says:

    Fire tv remote went from being one of the smallest to one of the biggest is this comes out lol

    • Nk says:

      I think many commenter are misconceped here. Remote are not like other electronics where you constantly pressing or scrolling like a phone so it used very little however since it could recharge it will even offset for those people who like changing channel all the time. no need for huge price hike. Maybe only $5 more :)

  2. Rick says:

    And I wonder what it will do the price of firesticks/cubes? Prolly double the cost????

  3. Dennis says:

    No thanks, just use lithium batteries with no worries! Just another gimmick!

  4. Greg says:

    Oh, like LG and Samsung are doing – cool.

    I wonder if this will be called an Alexa Voice Remote Ultra Pro Deluxe that will be sold separately for an extra $$

  5. clocks says:

    Kind of cool, but not worth it if it adds a lot of incremental cost. I already use rechargeables, and they last a long time between charges.

    • Adam says:

      Same, I converted over and invested in some quality NiMH rechargeables and an intelligent charger way back in 2014-16. I haven’t had to worry about battery problems of any kind since.
      They last seemingly forever in use, and damn near actually forever in the drawer. With a few handy to swap out, you can recharge them at your leisure with whatever power sources you might find yourself having access to, often at no cost to you if you’re minimally attentive to opportunities.
      Meanwhile, I have loved ones that have suffered the complete loss of multiple electronic devices, including a FireTV remote, to leaking alkaline batteries. I gave up worrying about that annoyance last decade.
      Lithium was, and still is very cool technology, but rechargeable NiMH batts is the best of all worlds.

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