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March 06, 2013

Samsung Has its Eye on Creating Touch-Free Screen Scrolling for Smartphones

Samsung’s Galaxy S IV smartphone will be revealed at a press conference in New York on March 14.

One of the phone’s most exciting new features, says an insider, is that the screen will scroll according to your eye movements. Samsung filed for trademarks in Europe and the U.S. for “Eye Scroll,” “Samsung Eye Scroll” and “Eye Pause” starting last January.

Of course, the Galaxy S IV won’t be the first Samsung phone to be watching your every move. The Galaxy S III makes use of “Smart Stay,” a technology that dims the screen only when the user isn’t looking at it.

Eye control technology isn’t just a Samsung invention. In Denmark, a company called the Eye Tribe, which spun off from the Gaze Group at the IT University of Copenhagen, postulated eye control for computers through the use of infrared light.

“You have infrared light that is projected toward your face. And the infrared light is then reflected in your pupil. And by seeing those reflections…with our algorithms, we can easily calculate where you're looking,” Sune Alstrup Johansen, one of Eye Tribe’s founders, told NPR last December.

According to Johansen, adding infrared to smartphones is as simple as switching out a filter on the front-facing camera.

Eye-control for computers has important implications for people who are disabled. Dr. Marita Pohlschmidt, the director of research at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, called eye-control technology a potentially life-saving invention.

“Those with extreme muscle-wastage in their arms often rely on carers to work on a computer, cannot position themselves comfortably at a keyboard and quickly suffer fatigue from typing,” said Pohlschmidt.

Devices like the Tobii PCEye and the EyeTech TM3 allowed users to control computers with their eyes. But as Tom Levitt of CNN pointed out, these devices cost thousands of dollars.

Tobii also works on using infrared sensors to track eye movements. The company received a $21-million investment from Intel last year.

Samsung executives have made no comment about the eye-scrolling feature. Kevin Packingham, Samsung’s chief product officer, merely said, “It’s an amazing phone.”

Edited by Braden Becker

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