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LG: Oi! Samsung's not the only one with eyeball-tracking smartphones

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LG announced that its Optimus G Pro smartphone will pause video playback when it detects that its owner has stopped looking at it - just hours before Samsung unveiled the same feature for the Galaxy S4.

Eyeball tracking, using the mobile's built-in camera to scroll pages and notice when the user is no longer staring, is set to be the next big thing. Navigating screenfuls of information with a glance is a nice idea but may prove complicated in practice, which is why both South Korean manufacturers are starting with the relatively simple pause-video-when-you're-not-looking function.

Samsung is playing it safe with the Galaxy S4, allowing playback to be paused when it detects that the user has looked away but requiring a tap on the screen to resume. LG promises that its Optimus G Pro "recognises the position of the viewer’s eyes and automatically plays or stops the video without any manual input from the user".

The Pro isn't expected to hit the UK until the summer, but when it comes it will have a dual-camera feature which takes photographs with both cameras at the same time, putting one picture as a thumbnail in the corner of the other - "Users can now be a part of the story" as the company puts it, explaining that the capability extends to video, too.

The timing of the LG announcement last night is clearly designed to remind everyone that the Optimus G Pro, which was announced at Mobile World Congress 2013, is positioned as a competitor to Samsung's Galaxy S4 just in case we're overwhelmed by Sammy's publicity machine.

LG and Samsung have long been competitors; both are chaebols (family-controlled corporations) with close ties to the South Korean government, they compete in the same industries and have headquarters right across the road from each other. Samsung is the larger company but LG is constantly telling the world that anything its rival can do, it can do better. ®

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