Samsung has one cool feature on its last year’s flagship – Galaxy S3 . Its called Smart Stay, and determines whether you are looking at the phone screen, then prevents it from auto-dimming the display until you move your eyes off it. When it works, it is a pretty useful thing when you take your time to read some web article on the huge SGS3 display, and don’t want to constantly slide you finger on it, just to keep the display from turning off.
Well, Apple has been thinking about adding such gaze detection feature to the iPhone for several years now. And even has a patent application, called “Electronic devices with gaze detection capabilities”, to prove it.
Apple’s gaze detection tech works by utilizing accelerometer in combination with the front facing cam. Accelerometer helps to figure out when you are holding your iPhone still, like when you read something on it. Then the face detection software chips in, and figures out whether you are looking at the phone display or not. If you do, the switch preventing screen from dimming turns on. When you move your eyes away, or move the phone away, your iPhone turns the normal energy saving mode on, and shuts off the display after few seconds.
The patent application above was filed on January 25th, 2013. Which goes to show that Apple may be actively developing gaze detection feature to include in iOS7. Or maybe not. This patent app is just a new version of the one Apple filed way back in 2008, and we haven’t seen a trace of gaze detection in any iPhone that came out between then and now.
I don’t know why Apple didn’t include Smart Stay like thingie in older iPhones. Maybe they saw no point for it on small 3.5” screens. But iPhone 5 screen is already bigger, so you can spend longer times reading before you have to scroll. Maybe its time for iOS 7 to finally get gaze detection this year.