Amazon’s New Smartphone Is Engineered to Sell You Products on Amazon

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows off the 3-D features of his company’s new Fire smartphone at a news conference in Seattle on June 18, 2014. Jason Redmond/Reuters

On Wednesday, Amazon released the Fire phone, its hotly anticipated bid for a share of the smartphone market. The device, which features four cameras and a 3-D interface, is focused on connecting users to Amazon’s store.

The phone was revealed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a conference in Seattle attended by 300 journalists. The company didn’t live-stream the event, but it was live-blogged by several media sites. “Basically, this is the fastest ‘Hey, I see that thing, I want to buy that thing’ machine ever made by human hands,” The Verge wrote when the phone was unveiled. “Push a button, buy the thing I’m looking at. It’s kind of stunning if you think about it. And terrifying.”

Among the phone’s consumption-oriented features is auto-recognition software. When the phone’s cameras are focused on a product—Bezos uses a book and a jar of Nutella as examples—it then finds it on Amazon. It also auto-recognizes songs picked up on its microphone and provides users with a button to purchase them in the Amazon store. Incredibly, it can do the same thing with scenes of television shows.

The phone features four cameras with a 120-degree field of view. The phones use facial-recognition software to know where users are looking and, of course, to try to sell them what they are looking at. The Verge blogged, “This phone shines a secret light at your face at all times and lets you buy anything you can see and always knows where your head is at. And people are worried about surveillance these days. Psh.”

Discussing the sophisticated software required to recognize human features, Bezos said, “We got really good at tracking faces, finding heads.”

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