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Amazon smartphone to reportedly have glasses-free 3D display


May 9, 2013

Amazon is reportedly working on a high-end 3D smartphone, among other devices

Amazon is reportedly working on a high-end 3D smartphone, among other devices

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The rumor mill has been spinning for quite some time about an Amazon smartphone. What that rumor mill was lacking – as it often does – was detail. Today we might have a bit more of that, with a report that Amazon is working on two smartphones and an audio-only mobile device.

This one was reported by the Wall Street Journal, which says that Amazon is developing the three mobile devices in addition to its Kindle Fire tablets and a rumored TV set-top box.

3D, take two

One of the smartphones sounds particularly interesting, as it would include glasses-free (stereoscopic) 3D. Unlike similar devices such as the Nintendo 3DS, the phone would use eye-tracking technology. So, according to the report, you could look at the screen from multiple angles without losing the 3D illusion:

    Using retina-tracking technology, images on the smartphone would seem to float above the screen like a hologram and appear three-dimensional at all angles, they said. Users may be able to navigate through content using just their eyes, two of the people said.

This wouldn’t make Amazon the first smartphone-maker to try glasses-free 3D. HTC put all its chips into it for its 2011 EVO 3D. LG released the Optimus 3D at around the same time in 2011. Neither phone exactly set the world on fire.

In fact, 3D hasn't done particularly well anywhere it's been introduced (apart from movie theaters). But Amazon's success with retail and its Kindle devices puts it in a unique position to connect with customers. Eye-tracking tech could also put a different spin on things.

Chips, LTE, and the music device

The report goes on to say that Amazon is partnering with Qualcomm to provide the chips that power the phones. The phones would both be LTE-capable, so Amazon would have to play ball with the big US carriers to get their support.

At first glance, the audio-only mobile device sounds about 10 years late to the party. But the report says that it would be tied in to an upcoming Amazon music service. Think Spotify or Pandora rival. Knowing Amazon’s tendencies, we imagine the device would either be dirt-cheap or free with a subscription. Makes more sense now.

The WSJ’s source cautioned that these devices are all still in development, and could be shelved before making it to market. Whether they make it or not, it’s intriguing enough to make you want to be a fly on the wall in Amazon’s Lab126.

We hit up Amazon for comment, but they don't comment on rumors and speculation.

Source: Wall Street Journal

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin
1 Comment

I wonder if they have a 3D screen that would be visible in daylight. Amazon could get this gimmick to work if they partner with some serious media producers (maybe websites or textbook companies) to create content. Otherwise, the reason 3D hasn't caught on is that nobody wants to pay more or sacrifice functionality for a gimmick. Ideally, something like a 3D mobile conferencing app (Google Hangouts, but in 3D) would get to be added in to make the 3D worth while.

Having said that, I also think that 3D should have found it's start in Tablets and not in phones. Tablets are much better suited to the kind of use that really lends itself to 3D while with phones, it's mostly just an annoyance, even if it works perfectly. Most likely, Kindle isn't really cut out to take on phones, even if they think they are - with the hassle of contracts and service providers, and the need for a device that can survive two years of being dropped, sat on, force shutdown, kept compatible with the fastest growing software market and generally abused in a way that no other piece of consumer electronics (save maybe a car if you count that) can expect ever to see - anything less than the best isn't good enough for most of us, and both HTC and Kindle have a track record of producing solidly mid-grade consumer electronics. That said, Amazon has the advantage of some market sway, and programmers who hopefully know when to tell a carrier "no", so it could be a hit on those merits, whether people like the 3D or not.

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