On Wednesday, Amazon will likely unveil its first entry into the crowded smartphone market. Only, this won’t be any ordinary smartphone—reports suggest the device will use exciting new 3D screen technology, which is Amazon’s way of being different. Will it be a gimmick or is it something consumers will actually enjoy? That remains to be seen. And it’s not the only thing coming from the company’s secretive R&D lab, otherwise known as Lab126 (think of it in the context of Google X).
In a new report from Bloomberg, Brad Stone, who authored The Everything Store, details the inner workings of Lab126, which is essentially Amazon’s hardware Montessori. Here, engineers are free to tinker and dream up the kind of bigger ideas other companies haven’t yet thought of. Or, at least, where Amazon can make some existing products better. For example, Lab126 is apparently working on a Square-like card reader for smaller businesses. But there are other, more futuristic things, too.
Stone says Amazon’s soldiers are also working on a device capable of projecting computer images on any surface. Another Lab126 group is apparently developing a wireless speaker that can be controlled with voice commands. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is the same lab that put out Fire TV and Amazon Dash, and its next greatest hit may be its 3D smartphone; Stone also says Lab126 is working on a “remarkably thin” version of its Kindle Paperwhite, which is already one of its best devices.
Amazon already has experience in mobile, culminating in its Kindle Fire HDX devices, which includes a unique customer service feature called Mayday, so there’s precedence. And those tablets are among some of the best and most popular available today, which can certainly drive hype once its smartphone is unveiled.
This device, according to Stone, has been in the works since 2009, but is only just being polished for a consumer release. That to us says Amazon really put some thought into shaking up the formula, which the online retailer has been hinting at for a few weeks now. We’ll see how consumers respond should the phone be unveiled tomorrow.