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According to information obtained by TechCrunch and an anonymous post on Y Combinator Hacker News, Amazon is currently in the process of developing not one but two smartphones under the company’s so called “Project B” team, both of which are planned for a release in 2014 at the earliest. The two smartphones are said to represent opposite ends of the market, with the high end smartphone, codenamed “Project Smith”, which is said to feature a 3D user interface complete with eye tracking functionality. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Amazon is playing with a smartphone featuring 3D functionality, however this new information does negate our earlier report slightly.

According to this new report, “Project Smith” will feature four front facing cameras, one at each corner of the device, working together to help keep track of the user’s head and eye motion. The operating system – likely an optimized version of FireOS, Amazon’s Android-based mobile operating system found on the company’s Kindle Fire line of tablets, including the new Kindle Fire HDX – will then take the information collected by the cameras and will move certain elements of the user interface to give off an impression of 3D. Apple uses a similar system based on the iPhone’s built in gyroscope to give iOS 7 an impression of 3D.

TechCrunch also believes that Amazon is planning on making it easier to find and purchase products from their digital marketplace using the phone’s cameras. Reportedly, users will only have to point the smartphone’s primary camera at an object, and Amazon will go out and find an equivalent version available for purchase on the marketplace. Amazon is reportedly planning on using the potential sales made from such a system as a means of supplementing the cost of the phone up front.

The second part of “Project B” is a budget smartphone, said to feature a version of Amazon’s “Fire OS” operating system with a feature set and design equivalent to that found on the Kindle Fire lineup. The phone, which is said to be significantly more standard than Amazon’s “Project Smith” high end smartphone. Various reports are also indicating that this particular smartphone is further along in development than “Project Smith” and was originally intended for a release this year, though most analysts agree that a 2013 launch is looking increasingly less likely. There’s also no clear indication as of yet that this will come to the market in the form of a free smartphone as an earlier report has led us to believe, however Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos recently claimed in an interview that Amazon would not be releasing a free smartphone in 2013.

Amazon appears to be taking the Apple route with the development of their new smartphones, operating under complete secrecy as they work to prepare the smartphones for production. All development units are said to arrive under lock and key in a metal enclosure disguising the bodies of the devices, and no unit is allowed to be taken outside Amazon’s facilities. Two teams are said to be working together in tandem, with one team located in Sunnyvale and one in Seattle.

Amazon has long been rumored to be getting in on the tablet game, with the company seeing massive success with their Kindle line of e-readers and tablets. An Amazon smartphone could potentially dramatically improve Amazon’s claim as a mainstream tech manufacturer, capable not only of selling other people’s gadgets, but selling their own as well.


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