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Amazon’s smartphone: a tracking tool in disguise

April 14, 2014 // Julien Happich

Amazon’s smartphone: a tracking tool in disguise

The Wall Street Journal report last week that ecommerce giant Amazon is planning to enter the smartphone market with its own handset expected for June is stirring a lot of debate regarding the company’s pricing model in what looks like a saturated and well served market.


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According to the report, a smartphone with four front-facing cameras or sensors has been demonstrated to developers in Seattle and San Francisco over the last few weeks, with the capability to track the user's gaze, augmented reality features together with a glasses-free 3D-viewing experience.


The auto-stereoscopic 3D screen would serve the on-screen effects based on the user’s head position (as detected by the front-facing sensors). You could certainly extrapolate that back-facing stereoscopic cameras would capture the real world in 3D to support the augmented reality features and match the user’s gaze with the real-world items attracting the consumer’s attention.


Once identified in the real world, these items could be searched and matched in Amazon’s online database to come up with price-competitive offers. In retail stores equipped with Bluetooth Smart beacons, the geolocalized offers pushed to the consumer’s smartphone could even be used by Amazon to fine-tune its contextual counter-offers.


Sure the smartphone market is already dominated by a handful of players, all trying to leverage their hardware to scrutinize and influence consumers’ spending habits. Google’s Android OS gives the search engine giant a helping hand on personalized advertising across the majority of smartphones, including the company’s Nexus series.


Last year, HTC and Facebook have released a “low-cost” social-network dedicated smartphone that turns the unit into a full-featured Facebook engine, ready to deliver targeted advertising. The “First” as it is called, is said to deliver an immersive Facebook experience with better integrated notifications. It also comes pre-loaded with Instagram for picture and video sharing.

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