What Is Amazon’s Fire Phone Firefly?

By Kacey Kroh, Abshier House, Abshier House

Amazon’s Fire Phone comes equipped with a DPA tool that optimizes the use of the smartphone’s camera and microphone. Firefly is a digital personal assistant that uses Amazon’s cloud-based services and the Fire OS device’s camera and microphone to recognize such objects as text, sounds, and images. Firefly offers limited voice features and relies heavily on the smartphone’s camera.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/LDProd]

Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/LDProd

When presented with an object you want to know more about or purchase, you simply push the Firefly button on the side of the Fire Phone, and the device will listen for sounds or ask to take a photo of whatever item you are trying to get information on.

While reading text either on the phone or elsewhere, you can take a picture or screenshot of the text and push the Firefly button. If the text is in an address/phone number format, the phone will ask if you would like to add the text to your contacts list.

On the other hand, if the text is in large blocks or chunks, the phone will look at the content within the message and look for the same content within the Amazon cloud telling you what article or book the text came from and where on Amazon.com to read reviews and purchase the product.

While listening to sounds such as music, you can also press the Firefly button, and the device will listen to the sounds and determine what it is you are listening to, identifying information of the sound such as artist, album art, tour info, as well as where on Amazon.com you can find the product and buy it.

Another great example of this feature is its ability to identify other noises made by animals, machines, and people. For instance, if you are a bird watcher and hear a particular type of bird in your area and are not sure what this animal looks like, you can push the Firefly button and allow the device to listen to the sound the bird is making, Firefly will then populate an image of the bird in question and will provide information on that bird as well as products available for sale (such as wild bird seed).

If you are interested in a particular product you can also use the Firefly button after taking a picture of said product to locate its availability, locations, pricing, and reviews within the Amazon cloud.

Another feature built into the Firefly button is voice recognition. If you continually hold the button down, a voice called Ivona will ask you to perform one of three tasks:

  • Place a call

  • Send a message

  • Search the web

Since these are the only three voice features provided by Fire Phone, it technically cannot be classified as a full-feature DPA; instead, it is being classified as a glorified way for Amazon to boost traffic to their web-based services, thus increasing online sales.

The voice capabilities of the DPA for Firefly is still in development; so keep in mind that some features work better than others. Amazon is targeting a specific audience of buyers, typically people who already own Amazon products, such as the Kindle Fire and Fire TV as well as Amazon Prime members.