Feeds

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

Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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, but this highly unlikely. It's much more practical to track either the position of the iris or the pupil, we reckon.

An advanced display, along with material supplied Kindle-style from Amazon, would set the online marketplace's mobile gear apart from rival hardware.

Mobile phones (and devices like the Nintendo 3DS) that use lenticular 3D have been around for the best part of 20 years, and were popular in Japan in the late 1990s. They work by having a lens over the screen which matches up with the vertical pixels of the screen and sends images for the left and right eye out at slightly different angles.

When viewed from a sweet spot this gives the viewer the experience of realistic 3D, but the viewing angle is very restricted – which makes it difficult to watch anything for a long period of time, which necessarily precludes playing games.

You can buy a laptop which does the same thing... now

Toshiba spent around $100m to develop a technology which tracks the position of the eyes and dynamically moves the sweet spot to maintain the 3D image.

The project was abandoned after a few prototypes and the (discontinued) Qosmio F750 laptop had been made, but not before a few Tosh engineers who had worked on the project formed a company called Liquid 3D. The firm produces a 15.6-inch 1080p glasses-free monitor with a built-in camera that motion-tracks the viewer's eyes. I tried this recently.

The Liquid 3D active lenticular display

The Liquid 3D display uses the camera at the top to track your eyes

The effect is spectacularly good. It has the "you can reach out and touch it" feeling that good 3D effects produce, and so is well-suited to games.

The monitor uses the side-by-side video format – you can find a huge amount of such content on YouTube and DVDs, or even record your own with a suitable 3D mega-cam.

Liquid 3D's screen is not standalone, it needs the camera to be driven by a PC, and so even in point-of-sale applications you need more than just a video player behind it. You can't, for instance, simply plug it into a Playstation for 3D games. And, of course, only one person can watch it at a time.

The UK company QLT – a newly formed division of the super high-end displays company Frontniche – will be selling both the Liquid 3D screen and a gaming laptop which will play 3D vid. The screen costs £1,000 and the laptop £50 shy of £2,000, both prices excluding VAT. The company is still building its website, but product should be available through Frontniche.

If the new Amazon phone does indeed use the same technology, it could be a spectacular differentiator for the mobe-maker, and would explain why Amazon is courting games developers. The Unity 3D engine used in a lot of Android games supports side-by-side 3D, so Amazon might hope to launch the new device with a reasonable games portfolio.

The supposed September launch date is, of course, for the United States and will be aimed at the Thanksgiving shopping fest. There is no word on when it might reach Blighty. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.