Here’s looking at you, Samsung


Bogie knew how to do it.

You’ll soon be able to control your smart phone with just a glance. Samsung will introduce eye tracking capability in the latest version of its flagship Galaxy S-IV phone next week, according to rumors circulating today.

It’ll be bigger and faster too – a five inch screen and laptop class CPU power – but that’s nothing new.

New interfaces that just work, though, are much rarer and lead to revolutionary products. “Just work” is the key. The technology itself doesn’t have to be new, but it does have to be seamlessly implemented.

Touch screens have been around forever (the first one I played with was in 1982) but it wasn’t until Apple combined it with iOS and put it in the iPhone that it became a core consumer technology. It was the secret sauce that launched the smartphone category. On the other hand, voice and handwriting recognition don’t “just work” yet and haven’t been game changers.

The specifications of the human body are hardcoded in DNA and define the limits of what devices can usefully do. Eyes and ears are only so sharp, fingers only so small and nimble, hands only so big. To radically improve usability you have to link new parts of the body to devices in new ways.

If you’re reading a message on your phone and reach the text bottom of the screen, an eye tracking function will automatically detect it and scroll down for more. Or you can select an app button and launch it by giving it a hard look. The possibilities for games are endless. That’s the idea and the rumor anyway. Samsung’s launch party is set for a week from Thursday (14 March 2013). We might know then.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.