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How does the Amazon Fire Phone do its 'Dynamic Perspective' 3D magic?

Posted: , by Victor H.

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You need to have at least two cameras looking at your face at all times - the Amazon Fire Phone has four, so two of them are never covered by your fingers.

You need to have at least two cameras looking at your face at all times - the Amazon Fire Phone has four, so two of them are never covered by your fingers.


The most notable feature of the new Amazon Fire Phone is something called Dynamic Perspective, a no-glasses 3D-like functionality embedded throughout the phone - from the wallpapers, to the refashioned Carousel interface, to apps and games. But how was Amazon able to pull such a trick?

Jeff Bezos took to the stage yesterday to unveil the new phone, and he also spoke about what challenges the company faced in bringing this to market. In fact, Bezos mentioned that the Fire Phone project started nearly 4 years ago, and the first prototypes were using glasses to recognize someone’s face. Not the best way to do it, is it?

In order to get rid of such unwanted head gear, Amazon had to double the cameras on initial prototypes - two cameras are the minimum for stereo vision with depth, but if you hold the phone in different orientation you can easily cover one of those two cameras with your hand. That’s why Amazon uses four cameras, so even when you hold this phone in landscape orientation, you still have at least two cameras looking at you.

The next challenge was the field of view of traditional cameras - at 72-degree field of view that most sport, a person’s head would go out of the frame way too often, causing the whole planned 3D effect to fail. That’s why Amazon had to equip the Fire Phone with custom-built, 120-degree, wider field of view cameras that would allow to have the user’s face in the view for the majority of use cases.

It's a technology 4 years in the making

Going even deeper in the technological details, Amazon also unveiled that it uses global shutter cameras on the front rather than the more traditional rolling shutter ones. Global shutter cameras are faster, much faster, something that allows them to also use less power, as they are fired dozens of times every second. There is, in fact, a 10x difference in efficiency between a rolling shutter and a global shutter camera.

The next step towards perfecting this technology was using the phone in low light. After all, we often use our phones at night, or in a car, or generally, in poorly-lit conditions. To overcome this difficulty, Amazon uses infra-red light - a kind of light that we don’t see, but that the cameras can use at night to see where your face is in relation to them, and that’s exactly what makes the 3D-like effect possible.

Finally, Amazon has opened this new Dynamic Perspective SDK to developers on the day of the event, so if you’re a coder, you can start supporting the new 3D-like functionality in your apps right away - Amazon has made it all really simple.

16 Comments
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posted on 19 Jun 2014, 06:36

1. Jason2k13 (Posts: 657; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


sounds great, but at the end of the day, most people just want a fast camera with good quality pictures.

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 06:51 9

3. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Those camera's aren't meant to take great photos, its for the 3D dept effect....yup

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 06:57 2

4. sam_tek (Posts: 91; Member since: 18 Feb 2011)


lol, i think the OP was joking!

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 06:40 1

2. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3309; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


But what exactly does this do? Does it "turn" the icons on the screen towards your face, or what?

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 07:44 2

5. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4417; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


You need to hold one in your hand to really understand what it really is. There is no actual explanation that will make you understand the true effect like actually using the device.

I am going to an AT&T store just too look at the device & see for myself once it's available to the masses...

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 08:00 2

6. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1057; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


The technology is known as "Head tracking" and the first public example known was with the Wii, the fun part starts at minute 2:30 :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw
The issue with the currren "3D" technologies is that they are in fact 2.5D, they show a 2D image+depth of field. This means that if you move your head you still see the same exact image, unliken in the real world, that if you move your head you see a slighly different one (objects are closer, or you see mor of one side).
This tech solves that issue, when you move your head you seee what you should be seeing, but in this case still in 2D...
If you combine both techniques, then you should have real 3D, but the only ones that have that right now are the Oculus Rift and Morpheus projects.
Which is funny as you could get the same effect in your TV with the current technology, just by combining Kinect with a 3D TV.
But no one have implemented it till the date. Sad but true...

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 08:01

7. HansGoneInsane (Posts: 401; Member since: 09 Aug 2013)


Yes and no. Yes: It is using 3D icons

No: It does not only turn the icons towards your face but also turns the icons with the direction you turn your device.

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 12:42 1

11. ManusImperceptus (Posts: 689; Member since: 10 Jun 2014)


He's talking about a regular 3D tv...

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 08:17 2

9. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1057; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


Another example working in a iPad:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBQQEcfkHoE

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 13:02

12. HansGoneInsane (Posts: 401; Member since: 09 Aug 2013)


Apple has also the parallex effect in iOS7. It is a first step into that direction.

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 14:31

14. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1057; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


Rigth, but it´s a bit different. The parallex effect uses the accelerometers and position sensors of the phone, not head tracking.
It only works when you move the phone, not your head and it doesn´t follow your sightline.
So as you said is a first step, but still far from what Amazon has done.

posted on 20 Jun 2014, 17:14 1

16. radex (Posts: 7; Member since: 30 May 2014)


i think you should watch mission impossible ghost protocol the scene inside the kremlin

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 08:06

8. AfterShock (Posts: 2968; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


This would be a phone I wouldn't charge in my bedroom at night.

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 13:23

13. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Why?..............................

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 11:32

10. isprobi (Posts: 230; Member since: 30 May 2011)


I am more interested in the tilt gestures to control the phone. I hate oily touch screens. So the more things I can do without touching the screen the better. And I hope the integration with Amazon Prime music and video is really good.

posted on 19 Jun 2014, 18:51 1

15. gigaraga (Posts: 1381; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


Looks pretty good how it is open for other developers. I just don't get why every other smartphone camera uses rolling shutter when they can use global shutter?

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