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New Galaxy S4 may come with eye-tracking technology

The next installment of South Korean Samsung Galaxy flagship phone may feature an eye-tracking technology, reports say. The coming Galaxy S4, to be announced in New York in March 14 and will be released afterwards, will be equipped with hardware and software capable of offering eye-tracking technology. A New York Times report cited a Samsung employee who revealed that the new phone will use a technology that will allow for automatic scrolling and page turning when a user’s eyes reach the bottom of the screen. There was also a presumption that the same technology will even allow for eye-controlled video games.

According to unnamed sources of the New York Times, the next generation Galaxy S4 will have feature significant software rather than hardware upgrades.  The said sources claimed to have seen and tested the new phone. The eye-tracking technology eliminates the need for physical input devices when browsing or scrolling.

Following the report of the leak, The New York Times interviewed Samsung’s chief product officer Kevin Packingham. He refused to give more information about the new product although he indicated that there will also be more hardware improvements.

The rumored eye-tracking technology is consistent with Samsung’s recent  filing of patents in Europe for similar technology called “Eye Scroll” and “Eye Pause”. According to Samsung, “Eye Scroll” is a “computer application software having a feature of sensing eye movements and scrolling displays of mobile devices, namely, mobile phones, smartphones and tablet computers according to eye movements; digital cameras; mobile telephones; smartphones; tablet computers.” It is presumed that this technology will have the needed resolution to detect a user’s eyes moving up and down. There are speculations on how much battery life and CPU time the new technology will consume, though it will be safe to assume it will not be cheap.

The current Galaxy S3 already features a similar technology called “Smart Stay”. Using the front-facing camera, the Galaxy S3 scans a user’s face to see if a user is looking at it, preventing the phone from going to sleep mode. The rumored eye-tracking technology for the S4, if true, will absolutely be more advanced than Galaxy S3’s Smart Stay in the sense that the latter was only using the front-facing camera for mere face detection. The new S4 technology is supposed to do more than that as it will feature real eye tracking that can sense where  the eye is looking.

There are questions how this novel eye-tracking technology will be implemented though. The current crop of eye-tracking devices tend to require some kind of a headset and a camera  close to the eye. The smallest eye-tracking hardware that can be added to laptops are being manufactured by Tobii are still too big a hardware to be implemented into a smartphone.

Some people believe that the feature may not also have an ultra-high resolution eye-tracking…yet.

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 tallied a whooping 18 million units sold worldwide from July to September, beating Apple’s vaunted iPhone4S during the same quarter. Apple took the lead again during the last quarter by selling about 27 million iPhone 5s, though the Galaxy S3 still shipped out about 15 million units.

The new Galaxy S4 comes with a 1080p screen, 2 GB RAM, and 1.8 GHz Exynos 5 Octa CPU–almost like everything the current market is offering. It is expected to be a hit this year despite stiff competition from Apple, HTC, and Sony.

source: CNN

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