Samsung SCH V960 Optical Joystick phone. How does it work?

Today Samsung has announced a cool new cellphone – Samsung SCH V960 Optical Joystick phone. According to Samsung to operate this phone:

Users utilize the optical joystick key by placing their finger and moving a cursor to navigate through the menu, similar to a cursor of a mouse on a PC .

Sounds like a touch pad on your PC, doesn’t it? You place a finger on it and move the cursor around the screen.

Samsung V960 close upEver wondered how it actually works? After all, if you look at the picture, this “Optical Joystick” is no touch pad. It is just a small piece of transparent plastic that you can barely place a finger on. How on earth can it detect your finger movements and move the cursor on the screen accordingly?

Well, Samsung’s patent application for “Method for implementing a navigation key function in a mobile communication terminal based on fingerprint recognition” gives us a clue. The name says it all – Samsung’s SCH V960 Optical Joystick tracks your fingerprints to determine the navigational commands.

And this device really operates more like joystick, or a pointing stick on a Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks, then a traditional touch pad.

The first thing this device does – it scans your fingerprint and determines it’s position in the joystick area. Based on the place of where you fingerprint image is located the joystick can determine the movement direction – up, down, left, right.

Clever image processing algorithms allows to detect not only the placement of the finger but also the angle at which the finger is placed. Thus just by leaning the finger in particular direction you can make the cursor go there. Just like with a joystick or pointing stick.

Samsung Optical Joystick fingertips

It’s strange that Samsung did not talk about integrated fingerprint reader in press release. Otherwise Samsung V960 looks like a really cool phone but we’ll have to wait and try it out to see how well the optical joystick really works.
Another interesting thing about Samsung’s patent , it gives us a general idea of how long it takes Korean vendor to transform patentable invention into a real product. Samsung filed for U.S. patent on June 23, 2003 and application for Korean patent application was filed a year earlier. So it took Samsung about 40-50 moths to get from the idea to the actual phone.

Based on this time frame let’s see what other interesting phones can we expect from Samsung and when. Well,I don’t know with what gadgets Samsung will suprise us next year. But I can speculate about 2008. Based on 40-50 month time frame sometime that year we might get Samsung’s perfume phone and also Samsung cellphone with virtual input screen.

I say “Bring them on!”

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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