Rumors about Amazon's upcoming smartphone are dropping left and right with many rumors suggesting that the phone would have 6 cameras and use 4 cameras to do something cool, but so far none of the rumors really make any sense.
Update: Leaked photos show the 4 front-facing cameras in an early Amazon smartphone prototype.
Over the weekend I expressed doubts that the rumored features on the upcoming Amazon smartphone would need the rumored 4 cameras for either gesture recognition or eye tracking, and now that TechCrunch is reporting a new rumor about the 4 cameras I am still having trouble believing what I read:
According to our source, the flagship device, Duke, is powered by a heavily modified version of Android. It’s FireOS with extreme 3D parallax effects, similar to those found on iOS but greatly exaggerated. The screen itself is not 3D, but rather simulates a 3D effect.
By way of four corner-mounted, front-facing cameras, a user can tilt the smartphone left or right to browse and access hidden side panels. We’re told that the 3D feature is very limited out of the box. At launch, there will be just a couple of added gestures built into the operating system that utilize this system.
Contrary to previous reports, this is done through head tracking alone and does not use eye tracking at all. Amazon never worked on eye tracking for its smartphones, TechCrunch learned.
Once again I have to report that none of those features require 4 cameras.
The parallax 3D effect on the iPhone, which you can see demoed below, was accomplished with only the iPhone's internal sensors. If Apple doesn't need 4 cameras to pull this off then do you really think Amazon would need them?
And as for the rumored head tracking and tilt control, that doesn't require 4 cameras either.
Would it surprise you to learn that Samsung built a similar feature into the Galaxy S4? That smartphone launched last year with almost the exact features head-track/tilt mentioned in the TechCrunch rumor, and they pulled it off with only a single camera and the sensors which can be found in nearly all smartphones.
Here's a longer description of the features (source):
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 last month garnered the type of media attention we’re getting used to for any new smartphone. Among the most talked-about feature pre-launch was “eye tracking” – the phone’s ability to know where its user was looking and react accordingly.
It took a few days for anyone to point out the application was more “head tracking” than eye tracking. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, it enables what Samsung is calling “smart pauses” and “smart scrolling”.
In short, the “smart pauses” feature recognises if you are in front of the phone or not, and can save what you were last doing when you move away from the device and decide to come back to it. “Smart scrolling” refers to the phone’s inbuilt eye-tracking technology, which detects if the phone has been tilted and scrolls up or down accordingly.
At this point folks I think it is pretty clear that none of the rumored features match up with the rumored 4 cameras.
I could easily see any or all of these features being included in the rumored Amazon smartphone because they don't require fancy new tech, just special software and a high end smartphone.
But I still don't believe any of these rumors provide a plausible explanation for the 4 cameras. I could be wrong, but all of the current tech on the market supports my disbelief.
What do you think?