Samsung Electronics' smartphone sensor technology has been dragged down by technological and legal problems.
According to Samsung on Sept. 15, the Smart Scroll feature was eliminated in its major smartphones released this year, including the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Alpha.
The feature automatically scrolls the screen by detecting the location of a user's eyeballs or the face of the user through the front camera. The technology to recognize eyeballs is a method in the early stage for iris recognition, on which a large number of smartphone manufacturers are conducting research.
An industry source explained, “I think that the Smart Scroll feature had to be removed while the new Android operating system was optimized.” In fact, Samsung's facial recognition technology has been rarely mentioned since its initial application in the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3 last year.
In addition to technical defects, Samsung's new sensors have been mired in legal issues. The Galaxy Note 4, which will be available in the market starting in October, is equipped with an oxygen saturation sensor that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood and a sensor that measures UV radiation levels. These sensors are aimed at giving information about the surrounding environment to asthma patients, smokers, or those with a sensitive skin. However, any device that measures this kind of information must be labeled as a medical device under the law.
This legal matter hinders the company's strategy to overcome the limits of hardware with sensors. Starting with Samsung, other smartphone manufacturers are apparently trying to expand the role of the smartphone as a biometric device through a variety of biometrics sensors. Smartphone makers are aiming at strengthening the role of the smartphone with smart healthcare or smart medical treatment functions by linking information collected via smartphones with medical institutions.
Currently, Samsung is reportedly continuing its discussion with the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and US Food and Drug Administration to exclude devices with a built-in oxygen saturation sensor from the list of medical devices.