For decades, the TV has been a static object, confined to sit on the outer edges of a room or inside a cupboard, never moving from a single space as we attempt to hide away the cables that bring it to life. Yet Samsung Electronics believes that the TV should be an agile and dynamic device, with the flexibility to be positioned anywhere within in space and moved whenever desired. Combining cables into a single line, the One Invisible Connection was thus conceived to eliminate clutter and free the TV from its past.
Recently the Newsroom sat down with the One Invisible Connection managers to take a closer look at the journey from product planning to development, as they created this innovative solution.
The first development in Samsung’s dramatic reduction of cable clutter was the One Connect Box, a hub for connecting various A/V components to the TV, introduced in 2013. Building on this work, in 2017, the company debuted the Invisible Connection, which combined all data and A/V lines into a forked cable. This year, it unveiled a first-of-its-kind innovation: a new One Invisible Connection that integrates everything – data and power – into a single cable.
The new One Invisible Connection is the culmination of the team’s combined efforts to overcome numerous obstacles. “Last year, we focused more on the appearance to create a design that seems invisible. But this year, while developing the newer version, we looked closely at real households to see how the cables were actually installed,” remarked Mingu Roh from the Product Strategy Team. “People would twist and mold the cables to hide a power line out of sight. So, we thought integrating the lines into one single cable would be fundamental to increasing the TV’s freedom.”
The greatest technical hurdle was to allow a customer to freely change the location of their TV around a room, without being hindered by bulky power or data cables. Junghwa Choi from the R&D Team explained, “We developed a solution which uses high-speed SerDes, optical communication, and error compensation technology to integrate the power and data lines into one thin cable.” Seungbok Lee from the R&D Team added, “We decided on this route after careful deliberation.”
The cable provided with the TV is 5 meters in length, but if needed, the line can be extended up to 15 meters, with the separate purchase of a longer One Visible Connection.
This is how Samsung 2018 QLED TVs were freed from spatial restrictions. With the One Invisible Connection, users can easily move their TVs, avoiding the tiresome process of reorganizing tangled lines and unplugging the powerline from the outlet. No longer required to be positioned close to sockets or in front of a sofa in the living room, the TV can be enjoyed anywhere in the room.
The One Invisible Connection has piqued public curiosity and raised certain questions concerning safety for small children and animals. Keeping these considerations at the forefront of their minds, the R&D Team undertook the sizable task of designing an ultra-thin cable that safely allows high-voltage transmission.
Customer safety was the team’s top priority in any situation. Focusing on the management and reduction of various safety risks led them to develop a new piece of technology: an over-current protection circuit that shuts off power in the rare case of overheating. In risky situations, the One Invisible Connection immediately cuts off power. “If it is unplugged or disconnected, power is cut off within two seconds for safety purposes,“ said Duhee Jang from the R&D Team.
Samsung was approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL)*, guaranteeing the safety of the One Invisible Connection. Nevertheless, the certification process itself was challenging, as there were no pre-existing standards to measure the new development against. In fact, Samsung created a new standard.
“We worked closely with UL from the beginning of the project to define customer needs and standards. Given the time constraint, the Planning and R&D Teams had to work simultaneously and these profound efforts are why the successful development and optimization of the One Invisible Connection are particularly meaningful,” said Lee. “UL Marks are the most widely recognized safety certification marks in the world. We are proud of the fact that we were able to present these new standards,” he added.
Resolving the shortcomings of traditional cables, the developers of the One Invisible Connection paid close attention to consumer preferences. On their home visits, they had also gained insights about consumer perception of cable thickness.
Roh said, “There was feedback that thin cables seem vulnerable and unstable. People even asked me, ‘Is it OK to have a cable this thin?’ So the team began its research and verification process to find an optimal thickness that would also assure users.”
As the product evolved into a hybrid cable containing both power and data lines, the team enhanced durability by swapping materials. “The major changes include switching the cable material from Kevlar to the more durable Teflon on the outside,” Choi elaborated. “It successfully integrates several important technologies.”
In their desire to blend it seamlessly into the home, the team went beyond the traditional boundaries of the TV. Some may doubt the importance of a cable, but Samsung’s One Invisible Connection is at the forefront of the evolution of the TV from simple audio-visual medium to a lifestyle product.
In consideration of the growing trend of consumers seeking greater convenience from their products, maximizing mobility is the future of TV design. The team hopes it will soon be the norm that people move their TVs anywhere around their homes.
*UL is a global safety consulting and certification company, approved to perform safety testing by the U.S. federal agency Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).