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Eye-tracking Galaxy S4 unveiled

Galaxy S4 sports a bigger display and unconventional features such as gesture controls. Photo: Reuters

Galaxy S4 sports a bigger display and unconventional features such as gesture controls. Photo: Reuters

Dominic Harris

Technology giant Samsung has unveiled its new Galaxy S4 smartphone, a handset which allows users to control the screen using their eyes.

A host of new features were revealed at the global launch in New York, including a dual camera function that can take two pictures at once and ‘smart pause’, which lets users pause a video by looking away from the screen.

“We have taken technology and innovation forward to help us get closer to what matters in life, to help us live a richer, simpler and more full life,” said JK Shin, president and head of IT and mobile communications at Samsung.

The highly-anticipated smartphone is predicted to pose a major threat to Apple and its dominance of the mobile phone market.

It will be on sale in the UK from April 26, and will be available through 327 mobile operators in 155 countries, including Orange, EE and Vodafone.

Samsung is said to be expecting sales of its new handsets to be as high as 10 million per month, largely driven by its new features, which were demonstrated in a theatrical launch event at the Radio City music hall and Times Square.

A heavily emphasised feature was the Galaxy S4’s remote technology which allows users to control functions without touching the five-inch screen.

‘Smart pause’ means people can pause a video by looking away from the screen, while ‘smart scroll’ lets users scroll through e-mails without touching the screen, the S4 detecting the movements of the eyes and wrist. Users can also change music tracks or accept a call with a simple wave of a hand.

Performers on the Radio City stage acted out role-plays to demonstrate other features. A doting father took photos of his tap-dancing son to show off the dual camera function, which means you can take photos or video using a 13-megapixel rear camera and a two megapixel front camera at the same time and blend the images together, even recording voice tags with them.

The phone also has an inbuilt translator, which can translate voice or text, can measure temperature and humidity, allows users to activate commands via voice control when driving and even monitors your health.

The S4 also automatically creates story albums of photos and videos, which can be synchronised with devices at home, while a ‘group play’ function lets people enjoy music, photos and games with people around them.

Marketed as “slimmer and stronger”, the S4 weighs 130g and is 7.9mm thick, while its AmoLED technology means the screen has a resolution of 441 pixels per inch.

Technology critics were lavish in their praise.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch, said the handset “more than” lived up to its hype.

“With brains as well as beauty, Samsung’s latest effort looks set to be the biggest handset of the year – and that’s in spite of an inevitable iPhone sequel. Pricing will be the final piece of the puzzle, and if Samsung can get it right, then the Galaxy S4 could take a huge bite out of the smartphone market at the end of April.”

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