Samsung's eye scrolling feature will test software chops

Samsung's eye scrolling feature will test software chops

Summary: Samsung has a bevy of interesting software efforts for both consumer and business, but an eye scrolling feature on the Galaxy S IV will go a long way to determining if the company can become more than a hardware player.


Samsung will reportedly enable Galaxy S IV customers to scroll pages with eye movements. The feature will go a long way to making or breaking Samsung's image as a serious software player.

According to the New York Times:

The phone will track a user’s eyes to determine where to scroll, said a Samsung employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

The promise of eye scrolling sounds wonderful. The problem: I couldn't contain my skepticism. A few open questions:

  1. Will my eye movement have to be exaggerated to scroll?
  2. Can this eye scrolling thing work consistently?
  3. How buggy will this software be?

Those questions are largely there because Samsung is an unknown when it comes to software. Sure, Samsung's Android may be better than Google's. The Galaxy Note has some handy handwriting software. On the other side, there's buggy Smart TV software. For business use, Samsung has SAFE, which is designed to make Android more secure for corporate use, and Knox, software that firewalls corporate and consumer applications. But Samsung is a hardware company primarily. The company is about devices, screens and chips.

AlsoSamsung Galaxy S4 and Knox: iPhone versus Android just got exciting again | MWC 2013: Samsung's Knox system takes BYOD fight to BlackBerry | Special Galaxy S III offers enterprises SAFE Android



Part of Samsung's potential software perception problem revolves around Android. Android carries the software day for Samsung, which adds its own features to be unique.

Should Samsung nail the eye scrolling, it will have a key software feature in its cap. If Samsung's new feature bombs, the downside is limited: Many people will simply view it as a hardware player. As Samsung's recent momentum and financial results show, being a dominant hardware player has its perks. However, software — and Samsung's proficiency with it — will determine whether the company can remain dominant.

Barclays analyst SC Bae notes that Samsung's eye scrolling application is just one part of a broader push into software.

One of the clear impressions we got during the MWC 2013 was that product differentiation through only hardware might not be as effective as it has been. Although we still found some gaps among manufacturers in terms of the finishings, we could not see many differences among the players. On the other hand, we got the impression that the first tier players are clearly migrating their focus to software/user experience and synergies with other devices. We believe product differentiation on software/user experience is more effective and sustainable because software is more difficult to be copied than hardware and it has economies of scale.



Topics: Bring Your Own Device, Mobility, Samsung, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Doesn't the S3 detect eyes on the screen

    keeping it lit and not dimming?

    does it work well?
    • Yes.

      It does work very well.
      Sebastian Tristan
      • In good light

        As with a lot of the recognition software, things become limited in less than ideal light or less than ideal screen angle.
        I don't even really mention it to friends when they ask about the phone.
        Little Old Man
        • S3

          I often use my S3 in dim light and at an angle and it works flawlessly. The only times it has trouble is when I tilt it in an exaggerated way, a way I wouldn't usually do if I want to read the screen.
          Sebastian Tristan
      • Yes - this feature is on the S3 and Note II and it works

        I could see scrolling working to some degree.

        Great idea.
        Schoolboy Bob
    • Great. A phone that's staring back at your eyes

      and nobody thinks that's a little bit creepy?
      William Farrel
      • Not as creepy as "smile detection"

        Better known as: what do you do when you have a digital camera with a dual-core processor?
    • Nope

      For those people with slanted eyes for most Asians, including me. I could not activate the face unlock with blink feature because of it.
  • Samsung and Google are real innovators

    The combination of Google Now and Samsung's excellent hardware is the only thing that is pulling me from Windows Phone 8. apple hasn't innovated in years, they are simply putting out me too copies of what everyone else released years earlier.
    • Repeating false statements often doesn't make them true

      'nuff said
      • I agree

        Simply stating over and over that apple is an innovator doesn't make it true.

        apple should stop litigating and start innovating.
        • No, the fact that they ARE an innovator makes it true.

          As Samsung's slavish copying makes clear.
          And being that litigating and innovating are NOT mutually exclusive, WTF is your point?

          You don't have one, as usual, other than trolling, not just Apple related posts, but ANY post that could even possibly be tangentially related, allowing you to post your GARBAGE. You add NOTHING of interest to ANY discussion I have ever seen you post in. No valuable information, no insight, no data, just non-stop, knee-jerk reactionary droning. You are actually worse than that sycophant brown-nosed ass-kisser Loverock (and no, LD, someone simply mentioning your name in a talkback does not make you cool; grow up).
          You drag this site down with your constant undercurrent of blithering, mind-numbingly inane, eminently predictable negativity.

          Seriously, get a life.
          • Shows what a fanboy knows

            To be an innovator you have to spend money of R&D, and of all the tech companies Apple spends the least by a wide margin. Do your homework and check the facts and not the spin. Apple copies (even Steve Jobs said so) what he didn't say is that they patent the copied ideas and then litigate. Rounded corners is an invention????
          • Right back atcha

            And how about even a modicum go logic?
            Yes, R&D takes money. And when you have as much money as Apple, money is not an issue. Second, when you have as much money as Apple, you can spend a tiny fraction of your cash and STILL outspend all your competitors. Not to mention that your statement about their R&D spending simply isn't true.
            As to your idiotic sleight about rounded corner, as that was NEVER the heart of ANY Apple suit, thank you for adding trade dress patents to your list of things you know nothing about. Hint: trade dress patents, like the one that involved the appearance of the iPad, are not about innovation, they are about protecting trademark appearance. So no, rounded corners are not innovation. So what?
          • Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak worries Microsoft is now more innovative

            Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak worries Microsoft is now more innovative than Apple


            READ THIS
          • WERE

            Were innovative.
            "Are" implies they are still innovating.
      • You are absolutely correct

        Which is why todd only speaks the truth when it comes to apple. 'nuff said
    • So let me get this straight...

      ... you hate Apple. Does that sum up all the thoughts (short term and long term) you ever had?
      Next time you may want to stay on topic, if that is at all mentally possible for you.
      • I wrote what I meant to write

        apple doesn't innovate. Whether I like or don't like apple doesn't change the fact that apple hasn't innovated anything in years and are just a me too copycat of Samsung, Google, and Microsoft.