Amazon’s 3D smartphone thunder already stolen by tiny holographic projector

5 Jun 2014

Our first official glimpse at what looks like Amazon's first smartphone

It looks like Amazon is finally ready to reveal its long-foretold 3D smartphone to the world, but the timing of this announcement follows news that 3D hologram-projecting smartphones could be on the market by next year.

Rumours of Amazon’s plans for a smartphone with a glasses-free 3D display first started last summer and, now, the e-commerce titan is preparing for an unveiling led by founder Jeff Bezos on 18 June in Seattle, Washington.

It seems that just about anyone can request an invite to the event, though places are limited, and the sign-up page contains hints of a smartphone launch.

The main image shows what looks the corner of an Amazon-branded handset and a teaser video shows excited people looking at something just out of shot and saying things like “it moved with me” and “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”


It’s believed that the Amazon smartphone will use several front-facing cameras to track the users’ eyeline so that images can be displayed in a way that makes them appear three-dimensional.

Ostendo’s Quantum Photonic Imager

Meanwhile, a start-up based in California called Ostendo Technologies may have already blown Amazon out of the water when it comes to 3D technology for smartphones.

Ostendo has developed a Quantum Photonic Imager, which comprises an image processor fused with a wafer of micro-LEDs, plus a chip that controls the colour, brightness and angle of each beam of light across 1m pixels.

What can this achieve, you ask? Well, staff at The Wall Street Journal were treated to a demo of a prototype of six chips working together to project a 5,000dpi 3D holographic image of dice spinning in the air. Reports claim that the moving hologram appeared solid from all angles.

Ostendo has spent nine years refining these tiny projectors, and the team now numbers over 100. The company is in talks with supplying mobile manufacturers with components capable of projecting 2D images by next summer, and expects to have its 3D projectors in phones by the latter half of 2015.

Of course, the actors in Amazon’s teaser are impressed by a glasses-free 3D display from a 4.7-inch (we guess) screen, but what’s now truly exciting users is the possibility of projecting live 3D holograms from a handheld device. It’s the stuff of science fiction, and it’s nearing reality.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.