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Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone of its own this fall, according to a report published Friday afternoon in the Wall Street Journal.
The report indicates that Amazon intends to announce the device at the end of June and to ship the device in September.
Amazon is reported planning to include a screen capable of displaying 3D imagery without 3D glasses. According to anonymous sources cited in the report, the phone includes four front-facing retina-tracking sensors to make some images appear in 3D, like holograms.
It may also be possible to use such sensors for device interaction, if Amazon includes the appropriate APIs. For example, by linking eye movement data to the scrolling function in an application, a developer could implement a way to traverse lists of email messages with a glance. Whether such interaction would prove preferable to a touch-based interface remains to be seen.
The phone presumably will run Fire OS, Amazon’s Android variant. Coincidentally, Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, begins on June 25th. If Amazon is planning a June announcement, it might try doing so on June 24th, to upstage Google.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In October, AppleInsider published a report making similar claims. It says Amazon’s phone, dubbed “Project Smith” internally, will include 4 3D sensors to track gestures — like Microsoft Kinect — and that it will also have two cameras: a front-facing 12-megapixel camera and a rear-facing 13-megapixel camera. The report cited Primax, Liteon, and Sunny Optical as the primary component suppliers for this hardware.
“Project Smith” is said to be based on a 4.7-inch touch panel, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Taiwanese phone maker HTC is said to be working with Amazon to produce the device.
An anonymous post on Hacker News last year by someone claiming to have knowledge about Amazon’s phone suggests the phone may include a way to take pictures of items and order them automatically through Amazon.
Amazon in fact just introduced such as device for its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service: Amazon Dash. But such functionality would fit an Amazon phone given that Amazon views its hardware as a way to promote purchases of digital and now physical products.
Amazon also recently launched Fire TV, a $99 streaming TV box that offers Amazon video content and competes with Apple TV, Roku, and other streaming media devices.
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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful … View Full Bio