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Amazon's upcoming smartphone will reportedly utilize Okao image sensing tech

Amazon's upcoming smartphone will reportedly utilize Okao image sensing tech to better track head movement.
June 6, 2014

Just a few days ago Amazon released a teaser hinting at a new device that it plans to unveil June 18th. Judging by the teasers, it seems pretty likely we are looking at a device with a 3D eye-tracking system. Rumors claim this isn’t another tablet, however, and is instead a smartphone.

Now TechCrunch claims they have not only confirmed that Amazon will launch a phone on June 18th, they also have revealed that Amazon is using Japanese-based Omron’s Okao Vision face sensing technology to track the user’s head in conjunction with four front-mounted IR cameras, an accelerometer and a gyro sensor.

The Japanese company’s tech was reportedly modified by a team at Amazon, allowing it work with a standard LCD display. In a nutshell, the tech makes it possible for a user to tilt their phone or head right or left in order to navigate the 3D display. Technically speaking, Okao allows for much deeper face recognition such as guessing a person’s age, emotions and more — but Amazon appears to only be interested in its advanced face tracking tech for the creation of killer 3D effects.

At least at first, Amazon will only have a limited number of apps and Fire OS system level functions that work with the 3D tech, but Amazon hopes it will be able to attract third-party developers so that way they can deliver unique app experiences that use the glasses-free interactive 3D tech.

As for the rest of the phone’s hardware? If the report is correct, outside of its unique 3D capabilities, the rest of the phone’s specs aren’t exactly bleeding edge but are still more than good enough to provide a solid smartphone experience.

Specifically, the phone will utilize a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with 2GB of RAM, and will have a 4.7-inch display with a not-so-impressive but capable 720p resolution. In addition to the four front-cams needed for 3D tracking, there’s also a 13MP rear cam and a 5th front facing cam for video calling and selfies.

It seems like Amazon is really betting that its 3D tech will be enough to wow over consumers, though it’s unclear whether this somewhat gimmicky addition will really be able to win over the hearts and minds of a sometimes fickle consumer base. What do you think, like the idea of a 3D eye-tracking handset? Conversely, do you feel the idea might be “cool” but ultimately useless when it comes to day-to-day usage?