As you may know already, the internet is currently abound with rumors regarding Samsung’s upcoming mobile Galaxy S4 and it’s innovative new eye scrolling feature. While we cannot be 100% sure if Samsung will be releasing the S4 with eye scrolling, we do know about the technology behind such a feature. This post will take a look at eye scrolling and how it works.
Eye scrolling makes use of a sophisticated set of technologies and methods called eye tracking. It has been known by scientists and gaze/eye tracking geeks for sometime that there is a lot of value that can be had by tracking the movement of the eye. Eye trackers are used in research on the visual system, in psychology, in cognitive linguistics and in product design. There are a number of methods for measuring eye movement. The most popular variant uses video images from which the eye position is extracted.
In numerous researches, many observational gems can be had from tracking the movement of the eye. In the picture given above, we can see the movement of the eye while we read a book. As can be seen, it is not a smooth and gradual progression along the lines. The circles represent where the eyes rest while reading and the lines show the movement of the eye. Eye tracking is an interesting subject in and of itself: for example we can find out where a novice car driver’s gaze is while driving and compare it to say an expert car driver and understand why the expert sees things the novice can’t.
How Does It Work
An eye tracker is a device that uses projection patterns and optical sensors to gather data about gaze direction or eye movements with very high accuracy. Most eye trackers are based on the fundamental principle of corneal-reflection tracking.
The eye gaze provides a very efficient way of pointing. We do it all the time in interaction with other humans. Eye tracking technology enables us to use our gaze in interaction with computers and machines. It’s fast, intuitive and natural. The components that make up the Eye Tracker are:
- The Eye Tracker incorporates near-infrared micro-projectors, optical sensors and image processing.
- Micro-projectors create reflection patterns on the eye.
- Image sensors register the image of the user, the user’s eye and the projection patterns in real time.
- Image processing is used to find features of the user, the eye and projection patterns.
- Mathematical calculations are used to exactly calculate the eye’s position and the gaze point.
Using these steps, the following can be tracked:
- Gaze direction and gaze point
- Eye presence detection
- Eye position
- Eye identification
- Eyelid closure
- Eye movement and patterns
- Pupil size and pupil dilation
How about Eye Scrolling on the mobile?
But how does it all pull together into the mobile and tablet space? How will Samsung use Eye Tracking technology to implement Eye Scrolling? We can only speculate at best. But we do know that mobile camera technology is used in some smartphones for eye presence detection. It is primarily a power-saving feature and, contrary to eye tracking technology with illumination, you are limited by the ambient light in the environment. So, Samsung will have to come up with some pretty innovative technology in order to implement their rumored eye scrolling technology.
Indeed, Samsung in January filed for a trademark in Europe for the name “Eye Scroll” (No. 011510674). It filed for the “Samsung Eye Scroll” trademark in the United States in February, where it described the service as “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.”
From what we know, the phone will track a user’s eyes to determine where to scroll. For example, when users read articles and their eyes reach the bottom of the page, the software will automatically scroll down to reveal the next paragraphs of text. If Samsung can pull it off, it will be some pretty impressive technology, but it will only scratch the surface of what is possible using Eye Tracking technology.