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[NEXT for QLED] Part 3: The Evolution of Intelligent TV, Making Your Home More Connected

Last year, more than 7 out of 10 TVs sold by Samsung Electronics in the global TV market were ‘smart TVs.’ According to market researcher IHS Markit, the smart TV sales in the global market has exceeded 60 percent, which is a significant leap from 35 percent in 2013, demonstrating the growing demand for easy and convenient smart functions.

 

Samsung Electronics is leading the change by strengthening the intelligent function of its 2018 QLED TVs with artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). This year’s QLED TVs have dramatically simplified the consumer process for utilizing their TV, from the first set-up to connection with other devices. What’s more, the TVs are now able to share content with, and control, connected devices. These are the result of Samsung’s efforts to innovate the user experience based on the company’s understanding of consumer usage and by incorporating the intelligent assistant Bixby and the SmartThings IoT platform.

 

 

Effortless Set-up

 

The first step, of course, is to get the system set up – by taking just a few simple steps. When setting up for the first time, the TV will automatically connect to a user’s Samsung smartphone, or any mobile device with the SmartThings app installed, and take the user to the set-up step. The network information on the user’s smartphone will be shared, instantly connecting the TV to the Wi-Fi network it is connected to. If the user’s mobile is already linked to a Samsung Account, that information will also be shared with the TV.

 

Users can also select their apps of choice from their smartphones to enjoy them on Smart TV, and their favorites can also be added to the launcher for easy access. Once set up is complete, users won’t have to worry about it again. Unlike in the past where users had to sign in to each app on the TV, the Effortless Login feature will share and store the login information from a users’ mobile in the 2nd half of this year. The QLED TV allows users to instantly access their favorite social networking or music streaming apps.

 

 

IoT Devices Connected by a Single App

 

According to a survey by business solution provider CSG, 9 out of 10 consumers already own IoT devices, and half of consumers expect IoT to make tasks easier around the home. But, the process of connecting the TV to the peripherals tends to be a hassle for many. The 2018 QLED TV has tackled such challenges once and for all with ‘SmartThings,’ an integrated IoT platform that’s available now.

 

Users can run the SmartThings app on their smartphone and click ‘Add Device’ to automatically find all the IoT devices in the house that users can connect to. When turned on, SmartThings detects IoT devices at home ranging from traditional home appliances like washing machines and air conditioners to baby-cam, lights, doorbell, and locks. Device information in these connected homes can be viewed at a glance on the TV using the SmartThings Dashboard. The TV immediately becomes the control tower of the living room. Users can, for example, operate the air conditioner after checking the home temperature. Or check the remaining laundry time on the washing machine. Users can also choose to charge or run the PowerBot robot cleaner, and take a look at what ingredients are in the Family Hub refrigerator.

 

 

New Family Messenger in the Living Room

 

TV has made it easier than ever to review the pictures and videos taken on a smartphone through the Gallery app. Photos and video clips can be uploaded on Samsung Cloud which is connected to the user’s Samsung account, ready to be viewed on a big screen. When you take a picture on your mobile while you are traveling, you can immediately share your memories with your family as soon as a notification is uploaded to the TV. The Gallery app enables users to share the same content on the family hub.

 

The QLED TV will play the role of a special mediator in the living room to help family members communicate easily on a deeper level.

 

 

No More Multiple Remote Controls. Just Speak to Bixby.

 

The QLED TV has been equipped with ‘One Remote Control’ function which can control various peripherals with one remote control. In particular, this year, it supports not only game consoles, OTT (Over the Top) boxes and speakers, but also audio products connected with optical cables.

 

Bixby Voice also helps make navigating the QLED TV easier. By pressing and holding the remote control voice recognition button, it is possible to search content as well as set up a TV without having to operate it several times. It is a strength that users can find various VOD (Video on Demand) contents such as Amazon, Hulu, and HBO as well as the contents of the set-top box. Users can also get additional information like the soundtrack while watching TV. For example, say “What is this song” to find out what music is playing in the background.

 

Also, devices connected on SmartThings are voice-controlled. With Bixby, users can have a home IoT experience where everything flows smoothly.

 

 

“This year’s smart features of QLED TV have made it easier for users to enjoy the TV experience more conveniently.” said Heeman Lee, Vice President of Samsung Electronics’ Visual Display Business. “We will realize home IoT that changes the lifestyle by various connected devices communicating organically.”

 

 

 

* The SmartThings app is supported on Android 7.0 and above and iOS 10 and above (On Galaxy smartphones, the SmartThings app is available from Android 6.0 and above)

**Specific features and availability may vary by region and market

‘All in’ on AI, Part 4: Your Personal Guide Helps Find Your New Favorite TV Show

It’s a problem many are familiar with. There’s a huge amount of content available on TV; so much so that many struggles to find something to watch. Consumers are spoilt for choice and it’s made more difficult by the fact that it’s hard to seek out shows they might like among the many unsuitable ones.

 

People in this situation aren’t alone. The average viewer spends almost an hour every day trying to find something to watch. But there’s a way that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help with content discovery, and it’s a function that’s already available on Samsung TVs.

 

 

Universal Guide Gives Smart TV the Power to Suit User Tastes

 

Samsung Electronics has introduced Universal Guide to its 2018 smart TVs as a way of helping users find content that fits their tastes. The clever AI deployed as part of the functionality can make suggestions of shows the viewer might like.

 

Universal Guide is an advanced program guide unlike any that came before. It learns a user’s preferences by watching for patterns over the space of a few weeks. It then uses the last two weeks of data to suggest suitable content on the smart TV including live channels. Although similar services have been available before, this is the first to use the power of AI to make intelligent content recommendations.

 

There are five tabs on the Universal Guide: For You, TV Shows, Movies, Sports, and Music. For You is the service that automatically recommends shows it thinks the user will like based on machine learning analysis of previous viewing habits. On the TV Shows, Movie, Sports, and Music tabs, the Universal Guide offers the latest trending content including Over the Top (OTT) content separate from the personalized recommendations on the For You tab.

 

 

Adding Simplicity to the Search for Shows

 

The profile of the average TV viewer is changing. It’s impossible to ignore the effect of Over the Top (OTT) streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It has given rise to a generation of cord cutters – people who have severed ties with traditional cable suppliers. As a result, they have opened up new levels of flexibility where they can watch TV as and when they want. They can even binge-watch their favorite shows.

 

Responding to this trend, TV, which remains the most treasured watching platform, has been increasing its services. Samsung smart TVs provide video services from the likes of YouTube and Netflix and music services from Spotify. Additionally, thanks to the TV PLUS feature on Samsung smart TVs, viewers can watch video on demand without installing any extra apps. Everything is seamless and integrated. The AI-powered Universal Guide makes searching through this large amount of content intuitive.

 

 

Top Choices All Over the World

 

What makes Universal Guide different from other content recommendation algorithms? It reflects the latest trends, in addition to the user’s past viewing patterns. Universal Guide makes it easy to find the latest trending content no matter where the user is. After purchasing a Samsung smart TV, the user can input a regional code, which enables the TV to recommend the latest popular content based on the user’s location information. Combining viewer’s history and trending content in the area, Samsung 2018 smart TVs can recommend shows that would likely appeal to the user’s taste, anywhere in the world.

 

 

Taking AI to the Next Level

 

This is an experience that will only get better. Universal Guide already uses AI to grant access to content intuitively without a complex procedure. In the second half of this year, Samsung Electronics will further advance a content recommendation algorithm that will use AI to pick out not only real-time broadcast content but also OTT content. After that, the algorithm will evolve to be able to cater to individual user needs, instead of recognizing the viewing patterns of the whole family. In addition, Samsung plans to give the most optimal experience that a TV platform can bring by making the content viewable on mobile. The company also plans to add eSports and home shopping tabs to its smart TVs.

 

The needs of the content market and consumers are continuously changing. Universal Guide, with the power of AI, is changing things further still. But the mark of success will always be ease of use and an optimized viewing experience.

 

 

※ Content/specification availability may vary depending on region and/or content provider

‘All In’ on AI, Part 2: Driving the Evolution of 8K Picture Quality and Advanced Sound on TV through AI

What do you consider important when watching the Olympic Games on TV? Vivid picture and sound quality on your TV would be able to provide you a lifelike experience just as if you were onsite at the Games. The artificial intelligence (AI) technology which Samsung Electronics recently unveiled at CES 2018 promises to deliver this kind of experience, with picture quality nearly the equivalent of 8K (7,680 × 4,320) resolution, as well as optimized sound, for real-time and other video content.

 

The new AI technology achieves close to 8K resolution and enhanced sound quality by aligning with the unique characteristics of the specific content, a step up from typical upscaling technology used to improve image quality. So how exactly does it work? Let’s take a closer look.

 

 

Enjoy any content in 8K through Machine Learning

 

The world’s first 8K AI Technology that realizes a definition nearly the equivalent of 8K is based on Machine Learning. Computers or smartphones run according to directive values that humans enter. In contrast, Machine Learning refers to the way AI learns certain patterns and gives optimized answers based on various examples.

 

Samsung’s Machine Learning Super Resolution (MLSR) utilizes AI technology to compare low and high-quality versions of the same content to learn the technological differences between the two and form a vast database. It analyzes millions of pieces of video content and finds a correlation. Based on its analysis, it can select the optimum filters that support brightness, the level of blackness, spread and other errors from all inputs, and transform low-definition content to close to 8K high definition.

 

The input content is recognized as ‘real-time’ based on a frame and is enhanced by scenes, which makes it possible to upgrade image and sound quality immediately, regardless of whether the video source is live streaming or OTT (Over The Top).

 

 

8K picture quality through AI, what’s the difference?

 

Other upscaling techniques require human input to compare low-resolution and high-resolution scenes and find ways to reconstruct them. However, Samsung’s AI Technology enables it to self-study millions of images on its own using MLSR, allowing much-improved accuracy compared to conventional technologies.

 

There are three elements to improving picture quality on displays. First is ‘Detail Creation’ that sharpens the detail of expression and improves the texture to areas with low definition that have become blurry after compressing the file. Second, ‘Edge Restoration’ defines the edges of text, people or objects in a video, moving pixels on the borders to thin them down to increase legibility and visibility. For example, if text context is spreaded along the edges, the video will be adjusted around the text for clarity. In a video that shows the moon, Edge Restoration improves details of the moon’s shadow and enhances the darkness of the background for a clear distinction. Lastly, ‘Noise Reduction’ gets rid of static noises generated during high compression or recompression of files. In order to transmit an image, it is necessary to compress the image. In this process, various ‘noises’ such as a jiggling point or a squared dot can be effectively removed according to the image characteristics.

 

 

AI delivers immersive sound effects

 

When watching dramas or movies, realistic, immersive sounds are as important as picture quality. Samsung’s AI technology not only transforms low-definition into high-definition, but also optimizes the sound quality of content.

 

Conventional TVs provide multiple view settings such as movie mode and sports mode according to the genre of content. With Samsung’s new AI technology, content can be automatically analyzed by characterizing scenes to provide optimum sounds.

 

For example, let’s say you were watching a movie that includes musical performances. AI technology can highlight the music in a way that allows you to experience the sound as the actual characters would. When the crowd applauds after the performance is over, you would hear the clapping the same way as if you were in the crowd in the movie. When characters are speaking, AI adjusts the sound to make sure the lines are communicated clearly.

 

Imagine you were watching a relay broadcast of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics that started last week. AI will enhance the voice of the announcer so that you don’t miss who’s up next. When a game has started, AI will increase the background sound to deliver the liveliness of the actual game. With this tailored sound adjustment scene by scene, audiences can enjoy the best sound quality for any genre of content.

 

Samsung developers plan to continue to improve sound quality according to the preferences of individual viewers so that each viewer can enjoy the best TV viewing experience, right for them. Because volume patterns differ for every user, and the viewing environment can change according to the time of day and other factors, the sound will be accordingly adjusted and optimized to provide the most enjoyable experience to each individual viewer.

 

 

Why does 8K AI technology matter?

 

As customer needs for high-definition TVs and content increases, some terrestrial broadcasting stations have committed to working towards UHD delivery, and various IPTV and cable channels have initiated 4K UHD (3,840 × 2,160) services. However, even as the TV industry begins to launch 8K (7,680 × 4,320) TVs, the reality is that 4K content is, as of yet, still not fully utilized in homes.

 

In this context, Samsung has proposed a new direction for TV technology by combining 8K UHD display technology and premiere content through AI. Samsung has developed an AI algorithm that automatically enhances picture quality to solve the problem of limited high-quality content. As example, AI technology plays a key role in the 85-inch 8K QLED TV technology that Samsung introduced at CES 2018.

 

Samsung will begin the process of applying AI technology to its 8K QLED TVs from the second half of this year, and viewers will soon be able to enjoy UHD quality video that is nearly 8K in resolution and delivers optimized sound for any type of content. A genuine 8K era is now on the horizon, and Samsung will continue to lead the way.

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