Ending the speculation, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos officially announced its Fire Phone at the Seattle event yesterday. Most focus centered around the long-rumored 3D feature.
Amazon calls its 3D display technology Dynamic Perspective which will dynamically change your viewing experience depending upon your perspective, as well as how you hold and move the phone. The display is meant to give viewers a sense of looking deeper into the screen (technically called positive parallax) rather than creating images that “jump out” (negative parallax).
One of the ways the feature could be useful is via the phone’s mapping app, which Bezos showed the audience briefly by manipulating a three-dimensional view of New York’s Empire State Building. He then took the audience into the gaming arena by showing off how the feature works when playing Tofu Fury. During the demo, Bezos tilted the phone’s screen and appeared to look around objects on the screen toward the next the level of the game. Bezos also showed off a different aspect of Dynamic Perspective that allows you to scroll across the screen by simply tilting the phone.
Illustrating the power of the “tilt to scroll” feature, Bezos used it to move through a selection of dresses on Amazon, as well as through a Washington Post article. You can tilt the phone and allow it to scroll infinitely and simply tap the screen to stop the scrolling effect. If you run across a particularly long document, you can set the speed of the auto scroll and lock it in place, a feature that adds to Amazon’s claims that the Fire Phone is optimized for one-handed operation.
The technology behind Dynamic Perspective always knows where the user’s head is located in relation to the screen. To achieve this effect, Amazon equipped the phone with special front-facing cameras with a wide 120-degree view. Four cameras handle the head tracking, with two taking on the task at any given time, so no matter how you hold the phone the cameras have a good shot at locking in on your head’s position.
Each of the cameras is also equipped with infrared lights, giving them the ability to track your head even in low-light situations. “No matter how you hold the phone, we can pick the best two [cameras] for stereo vision,” said Bezos.
According to Bezos, the device’s head-tracking ability is so robust that it can even tell when a fake head (e.g., a mannequin) is positioned in front of its cameras.
The Fire Phone has a lightning-fast quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 13 Megapixel camera. The camera comes with an optical image-stabilization feature, letting the shutter stay open four-times longer than most cameras to counteract hand tremors when taking photos. A special button on the side launches the camera and takes photos — rather than having to go into the phone to open the camera feature.
The Fire Phone also includes unlimited photo storage on Amazon’s Cloud Drive. Apple(AAPL, Tech30) and Google (GOOG) offer similar services, but they both charge storage fees.
The Fire Phone will cost $199 with a two-year contract, available exclusively on AT&T’s network for the time being. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon’s website, and it will begin shipping on July 25.