09
May
leiahologram

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is working on making not one, but two smartphones. And one of them will have some kind of awesome quasi-holographic glasses-free 3D display. That sounds like the kind of 3D people might actually want! The other one is... a phone of some kind. That's literally all the detail that was provided.

The one you're actually interested in, though, did come with a few extra tidbits about this glasses-free holographic voodoo magic. The Journal's sources claim that the phone will use "retina-tracking" technology to display an image that appears to actually float above the screen at any angle, and that this technology may also allow navigation of some parts of the phone using only your eyes. Neat! There's no indication this device will run Android, though that's all but a given considering how much work has gone into developing Fire OS and the Amazon Appstore.

They also rope in the whole Amazon set top box rumor, and some kind of "audio-only streaming device" that is allegedly being developed. OK.

So, this all sounds very cool. The WSJ even says these projects, know as Project A, B, C, and D - also known as the Alphabet Projects - are being worked on at Amazon's Lab126 facility in Cupertino as part of a broader push into the hardware market. But It's been 8 months since The Verge was pretty near absolutely certain that Amazon was working on a phone, and rumors have remained scant (read: non-existent) about this device (now devices) until today.

Then, the Journal's source drops this little "but...":

"Though Amazon has goals of releasing some of these devices in coming months, these people cautioned that some or all of the devices could be shelved because of performance, financial or other concerns."

So, yes, Amazon is working on all of these things, including a magical eye-tracking 3D hologram-esque display that sounds freaking awesome, but all of this is subject to termination at any time for any reason, so don't get too excited just yet. I realize this is just the WSJ and their source covering their collective asses, but this really is part of why the rumor game is so annoying: "working on" and "basically ready for production" are then mangled and editorialized into having the same implications. They don't.

I don't doubt the veracity of the Journal's source, honestly. The rumor here is oddly specific in regard to the 3D display, though it's also possible this person may not understand what "hologram-like" really means. My point is that needing to include the whole disclaimer about the projects being subject to termination at any time pushed this rumor firmly into the "grain of salt" category.  Just because a company is working on something doesn't mean it will actually be released, or that any part of it will ever actually see the light of day. An Amazon smartphone makes a lot of sense, yes, but glasses-free hologram 3D and a standalone "audio streaming device" are the sort of things engineers love dreaming up, and accountants love shooting down.

In the words of Mr. Ravenscraft, these things reek of buttbow-crapping unicorn, and I won't believe it until I see that buttbow in full holographic glory with my own eyes. (Well, I guess I'd settle for someone else's eyes.)

WSJ

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • nsnsmj

    Amazon would have to do some serious work on their horrible Fire OS before anyone would want to use it on a phone. I can sorta kinda understand the very limited UI and feature-set on tablets, but on phones, something which people probably use more than anything else, they'd need to add a helluva lot more.

  • Dan

    I love how "buttbow-crapping unicorn" is becoming a thing on Android Police, hahaha.

  • Alexey B

    3D tech is cool sometimes... but in the meantime please invest some of that research $ into researching longer battery life.

    • John O’Connor

      I don't think there are any R&D funds dedicated to 3D anymore (outside of holographic projection that is) 3D smartphone display devices have already been mass marketed and been available for all to play with (think Evo 3D, I probably still have one sitting in a drawer somewhere)