Amazon reportedly using face-tracking tech from Omron in upcoming smartphone

In case you were away from the Internet for the past couple of days, you might not know Amazon will be holding a press event in Seattle on June 18. It's more than likely that the briefing will introduce its first smartphone that's rumored to have a screen that creates 3D effects without glasses.

Now TechCrunch is reporting, via unnamed sources, that the 3D screen comes from technology developed by a Japanese company called Omron. It's called Okao Vision and, according to the story, its been modified by Amazon's hardware team to work on a regular LCD screen.

The technology is powered by four front-facing camera on Amazon's smartphone, which can detect and track human faces in order to provide realistic 3D effects. TechCrunch claims that Amazon's device will only have a limited number of uses for the 3D technology but the company apparently hopes that other developers will build apps that will expand its use.

The phone is rumored to have a 4.7-inch 720p screen, according to leaked renders of the product, along with a 13 megapixel rear camera, a quad-core Qualcomm processor and 2GB of RAM. It's supposed to be running Amazon's forked version of Android, FireOS, that's being used for the Fire TV set-top box.

So far, the name of the smartphone has yet to leak, and there's no word of a price tag and a release date, but there are less than two weeks to go before Amazon's press conference, so hopefully all will be revealed at that time.

What do you think about the prospects of a smartphone that creates 3D effects without glasses? Is that really cool and innovative or just a gimmick?

Source: TechCrunch


Reader comments

This is how Amazon's smartphone will track your face


Sounds... interesting. I'm sure it'll fail with the rest of the 3D phones that came out. But who knows. Kindle has a faithful following.

A big factor to the 3D phones from 2 years ago was the headaches they caused from 5-10 minutes of viewing the screens.

Awesome! Out of the 20 toggles on my Note 3 and S4, the face detection stuff are the most used apps on my phone. It doesn't bother me at all that out of 20 big amazing gingerbread colored toggles, that there isn't a flashlight toggle. I'm sure this awesome rumored feature will bring the smartphone world to its knees! WooHoo! Innovation sensation! Amazon? Nope. "Amazonazing" more like it! I really hope bing is the default search engine too. The EVO 3D sold like hotcakes! Everyone wanted it! This is going to sell at least 1.5X as much! Again, just awesome.
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Sarcasm?? Ain't nobody got time for dat. This is real talk from the heart. Real like a gangsta stereotype sonn! Mind on ma money, and money on the 1st of the month! Northsyyyde!
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Actually, the Evo 3D was a great phone (until HTC abandoned it). I still have mine. It's a lot of fun to be able to take 3D photos of the kids.

The problem with 3D devices wasn't the devices. It was marketing, and people like you, who decided that they were "stupid" before they ever even saw one. Everyone made a ton of assumptions about how the 3D was going to work (which is were the marketing error comes in) and started going around the 'net espousing how "stupid" of an idea it was based on their own misinformed assumptions.

Don't be that guy. Just like all the features on Samsung devices: just because you don't see a point for *all* of them, doesn't mean that they shouldn't exist. Your usage is not the only one that matters.

Thank you for that objective and unbiased evaluation if your experience. I totally stand corrected.


I'm actually inbetween GS3 just ended contract and is on its last legs....if this has a reasonable off contract price...I may actually give it a try for fun. Figure they can not go over $300...then in 6 months I can sell it for $150 and jump on Christmas sales for the 2014 flagships for my next 2 year contact.

If your contract just ended, you should have an upgrade in your pocket. Lots of phones are 0 down right now...

You have a good plan though, I am just throwing it out there...

I agree....I was waiting for each to come out before deciding...LG, Sam, HTC.... figure I'll wait for this a few weeks just incase it is magic :)

Gotcha...I use a Note 3 as my daily driver and I will have an upgrade burning a hole in my pocket come July 1st so I know exactly where you are coming from. I am gonna have to hold out to see the Note 4 (come on YOUM display) before I can pull the trigger on anything this year.

I am not all that impressed with anything at all this year as compared to the Note. Might have to hold on until Next February...

I have an upgrade coming up this month and I'm debating on the G3 or waiting for the Note 4. My only issue is my Droid Razr Maxx is starting to die and I really need to upgrade sooner rather then later.

The Amazon phone was an option until they said 4.7 inch screen I wanted something larger than that.

I would nurse that Maxx along until there are some solid rumors on the Note 4 at least....and some real reviews on a released model of the G3.

You're mistaken, I think. The video you posted provides the effect of depth by changing what is displayed as the device moves, possibly based on where the face is located. What THIS is supposedly claiming is 3d that doesn't require your line of sight to be perfectly perpendicular with the center point of the screen. Ever tried to look at someone playing 3DS from the side?

No, the Kindle phone will have exactly the same sort of 3D effect as the DSi (NOT the 3DS). The images won't appear actually 3D, but they will allow you to look at them from different perspectives, similar to the wiimote head tracking demo Johnny Lee posted in 2007:

It's true that the glasses-free 3D we've seen thus far has done so by "prismatically" (I think I just made up that word) sending a different image to each eye, which requires the device to be in a pretty precise location relative to your eyes. If they've found a different way, I'm very interested to hear some more details about how.

Yeah, I know, but I was trying to better explain "how" it did it. Not a very good job though, I guess :)

It didn't work for LG or HTC before, it probably won't work now. If it were anyone else but Amazon I would be convinced of its potential failure, but this'll probably retail for less than $300 off contract, maybe even $200, and the Fire tablets have been pretty successful. It's definitely not for me though. I've got a metric shit ton invested in the Google ecosystem.

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This phone will fail and fall flat just like our president's foreign policy. What I want to see though is a Best Buy phone! Just think, a blue and yellow behemoth with last years specs and tons of Best Buy sale ads on the home screen that pop up every Sunday morning! That would be sweeeeeet! /s

If it's easily switched on and off, I would find it interesting. I use the 3D function on my 3DS more than I'd expected to, and if this phone is as capable a gaming device as the Fire HDX tablets are, it could be really cool for gaming.

Of course, that depends *entirely* on how well-supported the feature is by third party developers, and that is probably going to be a huge road block.

I don't know how Amazon plans to use the feature, of course, but for the Evo 3D it wasn't something that was "active" except in certain apps. Most of the time, you'd never know the phone had a 3D screen. And it was surprising even then how many games updated to make use of it. There's probably more games out there right now ready to use this screen than you might think, assuming it doesn't require something drastically different from how the old technology works.

It's gonna have to be under $349 unlocked to complete with Nexus and the screen may be gimmicky but it's got to do something to make people talk. But I'm hoping for some sort of Prime steaming content deal with music, movies and books that will challenge Spotify, Netflix all in one package.

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I can't really form an opinion until Amazon actually announces and shows us exactly what it is. From what is described in this article, it does not sound interesting, but again, I'm curious to see the actual product. I'm putting my bet in for "Amazon Fire Phone."

Forked Android FireOS

You just lost me there as a future purchase. I'll just wait to see what it has to offer. But not for me if their tablets and forked Android OS is anything to go by.

It would be an awesome phone if all Android apps were free with it on the Amazon store. Otherwise... gimmick

If the hardware specs are there, and it's priced like their tablets (i.e. lower than the competition), buy it, root it, take what you want apk-wise, and then throw a custom ROM on that bad boy.

"and then throw a custom ROM on that bad boy."

Might as well buy any phone then. Without there forked OS you won't get the 3d.

If they don't have some killer usage model for the 3D aspect (as the article suggests) and they're hoping developers will pick up the slack (the same developers they've pissed off with their App Store policies), then it's got fail written all over it.

Maybe it'll be dirt cheap, but c'mon, with four cameras that's less likely and it'll have to be absolutely dirt cheap for people to buy an Android phone online without Google services/1st party apps. The fact that there's a rumored lower end model would indicate it's not gonna be THAT cheap too.

If they sell it at cost it will go for under $250. At that price point, it can really make waves. Many of the cheap off contract phones are so hard to get a hold of. Amazon will do a great job getting this in people's hands.

I'm more curious as to how this device will be priced. Will they charge smartphone prices for this, or will Amazon sell it at/near cost, and make money via content on the device?

Pretty sweet idea. Although when I'm home and I watch 3D movies it tends to hurt my eyes after a while and I know I'm not the only person with that problem. Hopefully the 3D effects aren't too ridiculous.

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great! now the NSA can have a fully 3d render of your face and head. They will probably have a lot of 3d weenier pictures also.