Thanks to eye tracking, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is sure to watch you watching it

A new feature on the not-yet-announced Samsung Galaxy S4 may help you read more web content without having the touch the screen. Dubbed “Eye Scroll,” the function would use the phone’s front camera to track your eyes and automatically scroll content when it sees that you’ve read to the bottom of the screen. Samsung filed for an “Eye Scroll” patent in the U.S. last month, according to Brian Chen, writing for the New York Times.

In the patent description, you can get a better idea of how this will work:

“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.”

Ideally then you could use a Samsung device with Eye Scroll and one hand for content consumption. That’s important as the company’s smartphone and small tablet screens have ballooned over the past two years.

The Galaxy S4, for example is rumored to have a 5-inch, 1080p display, while the company’s Galaxy Note 2 — the phone I use daily — has a 5.5-inch screen. Even Samsung’s small tablets, which used to have a standard 7-inch size, are moving toward 8-inch screens. For many, devices of this size means two-handed use. But with automatic page scrolling, content could be read while holding the device with one hand.

Even if such a feature doesn’t make it into Samsung’s Galaxy S4 — the phone is widely expected to be introduced on March 14 — it could be added to the phone via a future software update. And it makes sense that Samsung is even pushing towards this kind of use; it’s done so before with prior Galaxy phones.

My Galaxy Note 2, for example, has a similar function called “Smart Stay.” When enabled, the phone uses the front camera to look for my eyes and see if I’m actively looking at the screen. If so, it makes sure the phone display doesn’t dim or go into sleep mode. I have little doubt then that whatever features Samsung adds to the Galaxy S4, some of them will require the phone to be watching you.