The story of the birth of the Fire TV Stick 4K at the heart of the Lab126 byAmazon

This is not a novelty that we are going to talk about today, but the very first Fire TV Sitck 4K. Released in October 2018, this first Ultra HD version of the streaming stick has indeed given the teams a hard time.Amazon who offer us on their blog take a look behind the scenes at the heart of their research laboratory ...

Fire TV Stick 4K: a big problem

We are in 2017 and a team of Lab126 seeks to bring new technologies to its Fire TV Stick: 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. If you think that it was enough to change a few chips to bring Ultra HD, you are wrong, because in reality the engineers ofAmazon had to deal with a major problem.

 " The size! At first, we thought we couldn't do it at all ” explains Deepak Pai, senior wireless systems engineer at Lab126 in Sunnyvale, California. “If you make it too big, it won't fit on the back of the TV. If you make it a weird shape, it's no longer a Stick. "

The problem is that a small size creates interference and noise problems. However, if it is possible to do with 1080p, noise is not an option in 4K. "It was crucial to resolve any interference or noise issues, so that we could deliver a reliable 4K viewing experience to our customers, without buffering issues.", adds Jagan Rajagopalan, radiofrequency engineer.

Designed for low resolution televisions, teams ofAmazon noted at the time that the Fire TV Stick 1080p undergoes strong radio interference (RFI) at 4K speeds and that the viewing experience is not satisfactory. " Traditional methods of signal conditioning did not work due to the speed of 4K. No noise-canceling antenna existed for a small form factor, so it was essential for us to look around the corner and innovate. »

Research at the heart of innovation

To better understand what was happening, the teams ofAmazon created a complete 3D electromagnetic simulation model to determine how to rearrange the PCB and especially how create a new antenna able to eliminate noise.

Mohammed Azad, antenna design engineer at Lab126, explains that if “Other streaming devices use conventional antennas, such as monopole antennas […], they tend to degrade their performance in the presence of noise. " Impossible for Amazon who wanted to offer 4K, so its teams had to develop a noise-free antenna capable of slipping into the 14 mm x 30 mm x 99 mm of the Fire TV Stick 4K, none available on the market for such a small form factor.

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A technical challenge which resulted in a scientific breakthrough, the team in charge of radiofrequencies managing to perfect this famous antenna which led to cascading changes for the other teams. "For each product Amazon, the engineering teams get together, but on this product, it was on a whole new level ” explains Deepak Pai.

Especially since, if the problem was apparently solved, it was still necessary to confront the prototype to the reality on the ground and test it on all televisions, or almost. The one who would become the Fire TV Stick 4K has been tested on more than 100 different TV brands and models. to make sure it would be able to stream 4K to any TV.

In short, you will have understood it through this story, creating a product is not always as easy as it seems and even the design of a streaming stick at 60 euros calls for the collaboration of scientists and engineers.

Fascinated by Alexa since the day I received it in beta test, I gradually became passionate about the subject, before deciding to go further by creating a site with Jean-Christophe. An activity that allows me to quench my thirst for new technologies and share my discoveries about the nicest of communities: Les Alexiens.