Amazon is expected to announce its first smartphone tomorrow, but the outfit seems to have a lot more in its pipeline. The folks at Lab126, the company’s secretive hardware division are reportedly busy working on several unannounced projects. According to Bloomberg, one group is rumored to be working on a gadget that projects a computer image onto any surface. Another team within the company’s R&D fold is laboring away on a wireless speaker that responds to voice commands and a third crew is working on a payment accepting device said to be in the vein of Square.
While Amazon’s setup sounds somewhat reminiscent of Mountain View’s Google X, the online retailer’s future hardware lineup appear to be direct competitors to some of the search giant’s top products. Amazon’s speaker could possibly take on Google’s voice command efforts and its new payment platform sounds like a potential rival for Google Wallet. There’s also mention of a thiner version of the Kindle Paperwhite internally known as “Ice Wine,” which could further Amazon’s push into the e-reader market.
As for the company’s new smartphone, it’s said to be one of Lab126’s biggest projects to date. It’s believed that the new handset has been in development for nearly five years, and that its inspiration came from Google engineer Johnny Chung Lee’s 3D display tracking demo created with a modified Nintendo Wii controller. After that, the Amazon phone took off and was assigned the codename “Tyto” after a genus of owl. The device was later joined by low-cost handset sans 3D that carried the internal name “Otus,” also from an owl genus.
Amazon reportedly struggled to find the right type of cameras to produce the phone’s highly anticipated 3D features and even questioned if it was something that consumers would want to use in the first place. Fast-forward to tomorrow and that question is expected to be answered. There’s no doubt that Amazon has a lot riding on its new smartphone, as it could very well be the first step in a push of new hardware produced by the company.