Just When You Thought Pop-Ups Couldn't Get More Obnoxious


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Samsung is about to announce the latest versions of its new cellphones, and the Galaxy S4 promises to have a lot of the wow factor. One feature in particular has garnered a lot of rumours and a lot of attention. It's the eye-scroll:

The phone will track a user's eyes to determine where to scroll, said a Samsung employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. For example, when users read articles and their eyes reach the bottom of the page, the software will automatically scroll down to reveal the next paragraphs of text.

Okay, colour me ambivalent about this little feature. I am a little bit concerned that this small handheld device is looking me in the eye and tracking where my eye is looking. I don't need it when I have my fingers right there, ready to tell the device what to do. Having a machine look back at me is just a little bit too much artificial intelligence than I'm willing to deal with.

Just as I suspect the makers of Google Glass haven't quite thought through the implications of their product in terms of privacy, there is the issue of advertising to consider. My father and I laughed at the idea of wearing these Google glasses and driving, only to have a pop-up ad pop-up in our face, "WHAM!", and losing control of the car. Samsung's eye-tracking system promises to make pop-up ads even harder to ignore by noting precisely where your eyes are looking when they appear.

Think about it: a pop-up ad suddenly appears, going "lookatme! lookatme!" We grumble, and look somewhere else to shut the thing off... and it immediately jumps in front of where we're looking, again saying "lookatme! lookatme!".

I don't know about you, but if my next cellphone has this feature, it had better come with the ability to turn that feature off, or it won't be my next cellphone. Not by a long chalk.

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