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When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S 4 in March, there was a near-inescapable emphasis on face detection features. What we didn't know is just whose technology was making them possible. As it happens, it's not entirely Samsung's -- DigitalOptics has stepped forward to claim some of the responsibility. The California firm recently struck a multi-year licensing deal with Samsung to supply its Face Detection and Face Tracking software, which can detect pupils for interface features (think Smart Stay or Smart Pause) and keep tabs on photo subjects. DigitalOptics hasn't provided the exact details of its involvement in the GS4, let alone a roadmap, but it's safe to presume that Samsung isn't dropping its emphasis on camera-driven software anytime soon.

Update: DigitalOptics says the release wasn't clear on just what was involved in the deal: while the face detection and tracking are present, Samsung didn't pick up the pupil component. As such, you're mostly seeing DigitalOptics' influence in regular camera features and other software that doesn't involve eye tracking.

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Samsung Licenses DigitalOptics Face Detection and Tracking Software

SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DigitalOptics Corporation (DOC™), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tessera Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSRA) announced today that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has signed a multi-year license for DOC's Face Detection and Face Tracking software. This software will be used in Samsung Galaxy S® 4 smartphones.

DOC's Face Detection and Face Tracking software is part of DOC's FaceTools™ suite, which also includes Accurate Eye Tracking and Face Recognition, Smile and Blink Detection, among others. With FaceTools, end users can automatically identify individuals, capture fast moving objects, use enhanced user interfaces via real-time tracking of pupils, and take flawless pictures even under sub-optimum light or color balance conditions. This software is compatible with all application processors and can be optimized for power consumption and increased performance via custom hardware blocks, such as the DOC advanced hardware image processing (AHIP) embedded in Fujitsu's discrete image signal processors (ISPs).

The DOC's FaceTools suite is also a key capability in its innovative microelectromechnical (MEMS) mems|cam™ mobile camera module recently launched in February at Mobile World Congress. By combining FaceTools along with an extensive portfolio of market leading camera technologies, DOC will enable compelling new imaging features only available in mems|cam mobile camera modules for smartphone cameras.

"Our position as the technology and market leader in imaging software is a unique asset that enables DOC to develop highly differentiated mobile camera modules," said John Thode, president of DOC. "By combining our MEMS technology with our real-time custom hardware blocks and application software we believe we have all of the capabilities to bring exceptional professional quality still and video imaging and applications to mobile devices."

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Galaxy S 4, future Samsung devices to use DigitalOptics tech for face tracking (updated)