Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S IV smartphone, which will be revealed later this month, could offer users an eye scrolling feature, according to published reports.
The S IV’s front-facing camera will reportedly track a user’s eyes to determine where to scroll. When a user reaches the bottom of a page being read on the device, for example, the software will automatically scroll down to reveal more text.
The eye scrolling technology is “a natural extension of the Smart Stay technology on the Galaxy S III,” Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.
However, “you have to be careful when it comes to rumors about the Galaxy S IV,” Julien Blin, a directing analyst at Infonetics cautioned. “Samsung has denied the rumor about the eye scrolling feature.”
What We Know About Eye Scrolling
Samsung has filed for a trademark in Europe for the term “Eye Scroll,” and for one in the U.S. for the term “Samsung Eye Scroll.”
Eye tracking is not a new technology. Samsung includes this feature in both the Galaxy S III smartphone and the Galaxy Note II phablet, said Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI Research.
“Eye scrolling makes reading on smartphones better, because you don’t have to reach out with your other hand to touch the screen to make sure it doesn’t black out when you’re reading it,” Morgan told TechNewsWorld. “It’s returning the smartphone to one-handed usage again.”
Two free apps on Google Play, SmartStayEx and IseeYou, let users implement eye-tracking on other Android devices.
Apple has patented eye-tracking 3D technology for possible use on the iPhone, iPad, or Mac desktop.
“There are performance issues when you use an independent app,” Morgan said. “The camera may suddenly not work. Having the app integrated into the camera device gives you a much better experience.”
3D on the mobile phone may not work out because it “is going to be just as popular as 3D on your TV, which is to say not at all,” Llamas noted.
Viewing the Competition
The eye tracking capability could be one way Samsung is seeking to differentiate itself from the competition and establish itself as a serious player in device software.
“Everybody knows Samsung’s best-in-class when it comes to hardware, but people are questioning whether it’s as good in software as Apple,” Blin told TechNewsWorld. “Samsung knows it has to get stronger from the standpoint of software and services, and has been stepping up its game in these areas since the Galaxy S III.”
Samsung may continue to differentiate software on top of the Android operating system, Blin added.
The Future of Smartphone Cameras
Samsung and other smartphone companies may not stop at users’ eyes to boost device interactivity, Llamas said.
“What about gestures?” he said. “Say you get a call on your smartphone, which is sitting on your desk. How about interpreting a gesture from left to right above the screen as taking the call, and a gesture from right to left as sending the call to voice mail? That’s the kind of gesture base the front-facing camera would be good for. After all, how often do you use it to make video calls?”
The back camera could also be used. “The camera is due for the next step in its evolution beyond just taking photos or videos,” Llamas said. “It’s time for the camera to be a sensor.”
That could encourage the development of more apps to leverage the camera, he said. “I think eye detection is the first thing on a new path.”