Galaxy S4: Making software smarter


In front of 3,000 guests in New York last week, Samsung finally introduced the Galaxy S4, a smartphone people had been speculating about for weeks. Like its biggest competitors on the market (Sony Xperia Z – Sony; HTC One – HTC; iPhone 5 – Apple) the follow up of Samsung’s successful predecessor Galaxy S3 comes with all the recent hardware (8 core processor from Exynos, 2 GB Ram, 13 MP camera and more) and a high definition screen. Therefore in terms of hardware, Samsung hasn’t delivered any surprises by following the recent trend of larger screens and extensive technical equipment. Nevertheless, the media potential in larger screens and superior hardware extend the possibilities of complex and graphical applications given to advertisers, as well as the opportunity to use high resolution images and develop playful adverts.

Smart Scroll, Smart Pause and Air View

Nevertheless in terms of software, the story is very different. The new Galaxy S4 uses facial recognition to detect if the user is ‘looking’ at the screen or not. Thus the S4 is able to stop and play videos automatically or enable features like Smart Scroll, where pages can be scrolled by tilting the device back and forth, therefore demonstrating when the user is engaged.

The most interesting feature though is Air View. Air View lets the user control the phone by hovering their finger up to 2 cm above the screen. Without touching the device, a preview of pictures or calendar entries pop up. Scrolling can also be enabled through Air View. However, Air View is not entirely new. Samsung introduced this type of gesture control with the Note Series, where the S Pen offers similar features. Nevertheless, it is a big step forward by integrating a third means (after touch and voice control) of interaction.

Will it affect mobile ads?

Facial recognition and gesture control offers a lot of possibilities, not only for devices but also for mobile advertising. For instance, current Mobile displays are often limited in terms of space. Preview-based advertising with the use of Air View would not only be relevant in terms what the user actually wants see, but it would also replace classic layer advertising which often disturbs the user; a simple gesture could be more comfortable than pushing small close-buttons. Overall, the Air View feature offers a smart way to handle the small space of mobile displays.

Facial recognition is already an important tool in advertising. By following facial movements when print and video adverts are served to the viewer, advertisers will be able to generate a lot of insight into how the user reacts to certain visuals. If eye-recognition also eventually enters mobile devices, it could too revolutionize the way agencies buy adverts, for instance if we know through this technology that the user is exposed to an advert but not actually ‘looking’ at it or engaging with it, then it is not paid for by the client. That idea would be similar to the TrueView service from YouTube, where the client only pays for his video ads when they are not skipped. This leads us to believe that one day when adverts are only paid for when an advertiser can truly prove interaction, there would be no room for wastage and thus lead to better efficiencies.


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