back to article Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'

Amazon is reportedly planning to launch a smartphone with an active 3D display. It is claimed the device has been shown to developers in California ahead of an official unveiling in June, and that the tech will go on sale in September. The Wall Street Journal reports that the glasses-free 3D technology uses "retina" tracking, …


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  1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    No doubt Amazon will be sued for billions over this... soon as Apple has submitted the patent application paperwork.

  2. phil dude


    I think something this feature was on one of the new iphone (using the phone movement?) that was causing some problems with nausea. Could someone correct me, I own no fruity goods...


    1. D@v3

      Re: iphone?

      to an extent, yes. there is an effect applied which makes it look like the icons are sitting in front of the wallpaper, instead of stuck to it. As you move (tilt) the phone around, the icons stay fixed, but the wallpaper appears to move behind them.

      Pretty, but pointless.

      (bit like an iphone really)

      1. oolor

        Re: iphone?

        >...the wallpaper appears to move behind them.

        This is kind of a different league though, the background move tied to the gyro is a lot simpler than tracking eye movement. Particularly so if only one axis is used.

        This (the background move a la iOS) is actually an easy trick to replicate in the browser. A couple lines of JS to tie the gyro to a CSS transition function on the background position(or use two layers for the icon so the effect is only on it - or whatever other object) and voila!

      2. David Cantrell

        Re: iphone?

        D@v3, you were on course for an upvote until your twattish parenthetical.

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: iphone?

      I don't know about the iPhone but the Nintendo Gameboy 3D really does make me feel queasy...

      I wish the marketeers would call it what it really is "enhanced 2D" or "altered 2D" but definately not 3D.

  3. Spiracle


    Would I be right in thinking that this screen tech would only be 3d in one orientation? I would imagine that it'll be 3d in landscape mode and conventional in portrait.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Rotatable?

      It wouldn't be rotatable, and it would probably be pretty horrible to use when rotated 90 degrees.

      1. Pen-y-gors

        Re: Rotatable?

        Horrible to use sounds like an understatement - I suspect it would feel as if your brain was leaking out of your ears.

    2. ThomH

      Re: Rotatable?

      To be contrary, it sounds fully rotatable to me. The article mentions lenticular displays, which can't be rotated, but seems to say that the rumour is that Amazon will use a regular 2d panel and present the illusion of 3d through eye tracking. So the vector from the centre of the screen to the user's eyes is really all the phone calculates with; rotation doesn't matter.

      It's the same thing as those c.2007 videos of the guy who reversed the Wii remote control (infrared sensors on his glasses, Wiimote static and pointed at him).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rotatable?

        "present the illusion of 3d through eye tracking"

        How is that going to work? The lenses are needed to "aim" the photons from different pixels at different eyes. No lenses, no aiming mechanism.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully better than the nintendo 3ds

  5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Has the Nintendo 3DS done all that well? I thought they'd brought out a non-3d version because it hadn't. And also to cater to the people who couldn't see the 3d effect.

    I suppose 3d is most likely to take off in gaming. It seems to be on the wane a bit at the cinema (although I enjoyed it in 'Gravity'), and 3d tellies have not been the huge sellers the manufacturers hoped for.

    As gimmicks go, it could do well to launch an Amazon phone that had a large emphasis on games. However my impression of Amazon's app store (from a friend who has a Kindle Fire) is that there's more tumbleweed in there than in Microsoft's mobile app store. The Fire works really well for Amazon because it's tied into the books, films and music content. An area where they're very strong. But apps is a major weakness, and it's hard to fix without users - but hard to get users without apps...

    My other problem is that, in my opinion at least, 3d only works on big screens. I find the effect breaks down if my eye is forced to focus on both the 3d image, and the surroundings. So if I sit too far back in the cinema during a 3d film, my brain does this weird flip between seeing the 3d - then seeing the screen as a flat picture on the wall, then going back to seeing the 3d. Headache inducing. Whereas at the front, where the screen fills my visual field, I can stay in the 3d illusion. I don't know if that's just me though?

    1. monkeyfish

      I own a 3DS, but the 3D effect stays off. It's all well and good so long as you look directly at the screen and don't move it. Only, it's a hand-held console, so small movements are inevitable. As such, the 3D effect pops in and out the whole time I use it, and that screws with my brain. Hopefully the eye-tracking tech works a bit better, but I'm yet to be convinced by any 3D tech I've seen (outside of an old plastic viewmaster, that is!).

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        I suffer from nystagmus (involuntary eye movements). So I suspect I can confuse eye-tracking tech - and make things look even worse.

        However just because it doesn't work for me doesn't necessarily mean it's not a valuable piece of new tech, rather than a crappy old gimmick. I just happen to think that in this case it is a crappy old gimmick, even for people with the sight to appreciate it.

    2. Alistair


      No, not just you IAS. In my case it depends on which side of the screen the effect is on -- on the left I get full 3D results -- if its off to my right it drops. Something to do with my "flat spot" on the right cornea .... At least for the sake of the 8 year old's entertainment I'm willing to suffer the headache, but I came to regret every single minute of Avatar 3d.

      Grumpy old guy since I'm dealing with a chain of folks that don't want to own their roles today ....

    3. Levente Szileszky

      "(from a friend who has a Kindle Fire)"

      Your friend is either clueless or lives in some godforsaken part of the world which isn't high on Amazon's list - as for Amazon's US app store it has most of what Google's offer, far beyond of MSFT's abandoned-looking Windows Phone one.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "(from a friend who has a Kindle Fire)"

        Levente Szilesky,

        My friend lives in sunny Blighty. And had said that he'd tried to install a couple of apps - presumably where he'd seen something that had an Android app - and they weren't available for Kindle. I'm aware he could sideload them - although I don't think he is.

        A brief search suggests that the Kindle app store has about 1/5th the number of apps as Google. Which is pretty impressive. Although I don't know if there are many US only apps.

        However given you can get a decent ASUS 7" Android tablet for under £100 - which will take all of Amazon's services I wouldn't recomment the Kindles. They're quite limited in some ways. And I suspect Amazon will do the same to any phone they sell. As for Windows Phone's app store being unloved, I'd imagine it's probably at a similar level to the Amazon one. And similarly lacking in the kind of apps for museums and companies, where they just knock-up an iPhone and mostly Android app.

        1. Levente Szileszky

          Re: "(from a friend who has a Kindle Fire)"

          Sure, if you want a pure Android device it's not the Kindle you want to go for - but if you are one of the ~20M people who enjoys Amazon Prime for a flat annual fee then a Kindle is a no-brainer, with its built-in direct access to Prime's vast movie/TV library etc AND it comes with a real app store.

          All I was saying Amazon's app store effort is clearly second only to Google and Apple, the two giant platform owners, far ahead of everybody else (Blackberry, MSFT, Nokia et al); while you can find stuff you won't find there it is still fine for a regular users, not to mention that restrictions exist in Google's store, often inexplicably (an app shows up for one of our device, does not on another, despite both phones running the same Android version or the stupid 'tablet-only' limitations on apps and so on.)

  6. sabroni Silver badge

    Still got no proper depth of field

    Until you can actually focus at different distances it'll only be an illusion of 3d. I believe that tech to enable real 3d is being worked on, but it's a lot trickier than just adjusting the angle of the lenticular dodad.

    1. Jim84

      Re: Still got no proper depth of field

      Seereal technology have some tech for producing a pseudo holographic display. But you would need some way of turning an LCD or OLED display into a lightfield display. They proposed having tiny half oil filled cells in front of the pixels.

      Whether anyone could make that work at a reasonable price in the near future is unknown.

    2. ThomH

      Re: Still got no proper depth of field

      I think this is more likely to turn up in VR headsets first. You don't have to go to a full light field — supposing mechanical latency were magically no problem you "just need to" track the eye's focus, undo it with an adjustable intermediate lens and then apply appropriate depth of field to the rendered image. So you're sort of cancelling the eye's attempt at focus and then pretending that it worked.

      Inverted commas are there as per my expertise. How easy is it for us non-engineers to sit here and say "it doesn't sound hard to me"?

  7. NoneSuch Silver badge

    That's all I need. Every thirty seconds my phone will say "I'm up here."

  8. ThomH

    Obligatory "What about Samsung?" post

    Samsung implemented eye tracking in one of its handsets (the S3? Maybe the S4?) albeit that they limited it to deciding whether to keep the screen awake and allowing implicit scrolling. It's not a huge leap from tracking the pupil to decide how to move 2d content around to tracking the pupil to decide how to move 3d content around, especially when you've already got handsets like Apple's that import a slightly more nuanced idea of interface depth than just plain z-order and use that in order to do very subtle 3d presentations (in that case in response to the gyroscope rather than to eye motion but you get the point).

  9. Arachnoid

    3D laptop

    I saw a display of this at the recent show at Birmingham and the viewer really needed to be central to the screen and at a certain distance to appreciate the true 3D image.Off to the side it looked like one of those funky out of synch over layed images.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember the pre-launch hype about Kindle Fire

    Lots of discussion about revolutionary features that would reshape the tablet market. It wasn't anything special. If Amazon launches their very first phone with revolutionary technology that other phone makers have probably been researching and holding off on because it sounded better than it looked/worked, I expect to see a half-baked product that gets a lot of launch buzz but a lot of meh reviews and Android customers go back to buying Samsungs.

  11. Levente Szileszky

    You can also get this in a $3xx tablet...

    ...which I consider cheap, even from an apparently not too well-known vendor:

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