Samsung Galaxy S4: Gesturing at the Future

A five-inch screen and 8-core processor have got smartphone aficionado tongues wagging about the new Samsung Corp. Galaxy S4, but the upgrades to the user interface give more insight into where the future of device design might go. Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone aimed at taking on Apple Corp. and others Thursday evening. The vendor hasn't announced pricing or a US launch date yet. Samsung has taken baby steps into 3-D gesture-based interfacing with this phone, but it is a fruitful area for the vendor and others to explore in the future. Presently, the user interface (UI) allows users to do things like expand a photo thumbnail or highlight an email by hovering their fingers over the phone. Samsung has also continued with eye-tracking features so the phone knows to pause a video when you look away, for instance. Here's a demo of the user interface presented by the GSM Arena:

This, however, is really just the start for gesture-based interfaces. Companies like Omek Interactive Ltd. are looking at features like flicking through a library rendered in 3-D with a wave of the hand for the future. Industry analyst Richard Windsor, meanwhile, describes the S4 as an evolutionary upgrade that puts "Samsung further ahead of Apple in the technology game" even as "the Android ecosystem [operating system and apps] remains inferior to iOS" in his daily "Radio Free Mobile" email. "A minor update from Apple to the iPhone 5S is probably not going be enough this year," Windsor notes. "A more radical upgrade is required but I think Apple is fully aware of that." Could gesture be part of that upgrade? It's hard to say for sure yet, but Apple certainly already has the patents to get heavily into a 3-D gesture-based UI in the coming years. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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