Responsibility is an important part of technology – both in creating and using it – and one aspect Samsung Electronics continues to focus on is safe use of technology while in traffic. As the Dutch government launched “MONO: Undisturbed,” a campaign to reduce the use of smartphones in traffic, last week, Samsung Electronics joined the efforts with the In-Traffic Reply app it announced last year.
It is well known that it is dangerous to operate a smartphone while driving. However, research shows that two thirds of the Dutch feel pressured to respond immediately to messages – even when behind the wheel – and more than 70% of the people aged between 15 and 24 still call or send messages with their phones while in traffic, a quarter check their social media feed and almost one in five reply to a message while they drive.
In-Traffic Reply detects when you are behind the wheel or on your bike and automatically answers all incoming messages with your pre-determined personalized message while you’re driving. More than 100,000 Dutch people already have In-Traffic Reply on their phone. The focus, this year, is to encourage more people to actively use the solution.
Samsung Electronics, the Dutch government and other partners including ANWB, Veilig Verkeer Nederland and Fietsersbond will continue to support the MONO campaign to raise awareness and promote action against smartphone use while driving.
It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of building technologies with ‘brains’ that learn and are even structured just like ours seemed like science fiction.
Just ask the distinguished speakers at the “Samsung AI Forum 2018”. Held in Seoul from September 12th to 13th, the second edition of Samsung Electronics’ artificial intelligence (AI) forum featured accomplished AI experts, who discussed how groundbreaking advancements are not only helping to create technology that will make our lives more comfortable, convenient and efficient. They’re also teaching us more about how our own minds work.
Unsupervised Learning Takes Center Stage
The forum began with a presentation from the founding director of the New York University Center for Data Science, and one of the world’s leading minds in the field of deep learning, Yann LeCun.
LeCun’s speech set the stage for the exciting discussions on unsupervised learning that would follow over the course of the two-day event. LeCun explained why he and many of his peers believe that unsupervised learning, also known as self-supervised learning, represents the future of AI. He also delved into unsupervised learning algorithms’ potential applications (and limitations), and explained how they differ from supervised and reinforcement learning algorithms.
As LeCun explained, supervised learning algorithms learn utilizing labeled datasets and answer keys that allow them to evaluate their accuracy. This essentially means that each example in the training dataset includes the answer that the algorithm should produce. With reinforcement learning, an algorithm is trained using a reward system that offers feedback when it performs an optimal action for a given situation. It relies on this feedback, rather than labeled datasets, to make the choice that offers the greatest reward.
With unsupervised learning, the algorithm is tasked with making sense of an unlabeled dataset—a set of examples that doesn’t have a correct answer or desired outcome—on its own. While these algorithms can be more unpredictable than their counterparts, they can also perform more complex processing tasks.
LeCun used training self-driving cars as a key example of unsupervised learning’s potential. “A lot of people who are working on autonomous driving are hoping to use reinforcement learning to get cars to learn to drive by themselves by trial and error,” said LeCun. “The problem with this is that, because of [reinforcement learning’s inherent inefficiencies], you’d have to get a car to drive off a cliff several thousand times before it figures out how not to do that.”
LeCun explained how, unlike reinforcement learning models, which rely on trial and error, unsupervised learning models could potentially be capable of guessing what to do in a situation like this—demonstrating mental capabilities similar to what we’d call common sense.
He also discussed his experience developing artificial neural networks—specifically convolutional neural networks (ConvNets)—and demonstrated how they can be used to build not only self-driving cars but a wide variety of innovative devices, including technologies for medical signal and image analysis, bioinformatics, speech recognition, language translation, image restoration, robotics and physics.
LeCun’s presentation was followed by a lecture from another leading light in the field of deep learning: University of Montreal professor Yoshua Bengio. Professor Bengio’s lecture focused specifically on stochastic gradient descent (SGD)—an AI optimization method that’s used to minimize errors made by artificial neural networks.
As Bengio explained, “[SGD] is really the workhorse of deep learning. This is the optimization technique that is used everywhere for supervised learning, reinforcement learning and self-supervised learning. It’s been with us for many decades and it works incredibly well, but we don’t completely understand it yet.”
Bengio’s presentation allowed attendees to gain a better understanding of SGD, with specific focus on how SGD variants can affect neural network optimization and generalization. Bengio discussed how the traditional view of machine learning sees optimization and generalization as neatly separated, but that’s not actually the case. He also presented detailed research findings on the effects of SGD-based learning techniques on both aspects of network design.
Could Unsupervised Learning Unlock the Secrets of the Brain?
Sebastian Seung, Executive Vice President of Samsung Research and Chief Research Scientist of Samsung Electronics, delivered a particularly illuminating presentation that outlined why unsupervised learning will be essential for developing AI with human-level mental capabilities.
Seung described how the convolutional neural networks that LeCun had examined in detail are in fact based on insights gained through the study of neuroscience. He also discussed how his research in both artificial and biological neural networks led him to study ways to apply AI to gain a better understanding of how our brains are wired.
Seung stressed that the model for designing unsupervised learning networks lies in the cortex of the brain, and highlighted a recent study that his team was involved in that used AI to map out all of the neurons contained in a one cubic millimeter of a mouse’s visual cortex—more than 100,000 in total.
The unsupervised learning algorithm that the researchers utilized allowed them to not only create a 3D reconstruction of the neural network’s wiring, but also made it possible to label and color in individual cells and their components. “That’s the magic of deep learning,” said Seung. “If a human had to color all that in, it would take about 100 years of work. And that’s with no coffee breaks or sleeping.”
Living with Social Robots in ‘10 to 20 Years’
The speech delivered by Cynthia Breazeal, the founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc., and the founding director of the Personal Robotics Group at MIT’s (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s) Media Lab, shifted focus to applying AI to develop advanced robotics.
Breazeal’s speech, entitled “Living and Flourishing with Social Robots,” discussed approaches needed to develop autonomous systems that utilize AI to enhance our quality of life. As Breazeal explained, autonomous, socially and emotionally intelligent technologies—robots with what’s known as ‘relational AI’—present a wide range of exciting benefits.
“I’m really excited to think about the next 10 to 20 years—of having these robots actually become a part of our daily lives,” said Breazeal.
The fascinating presentation highlighted helpful companion technologies in particular, and included specific examples of ways that robots could be used to assist children and older adults. Breazeal noted studies in which AI robotic companions were given to patients at a children’s hospital, as well as kindergarten-age students and senior citizens.
Videos of the studies showed how the children in the hospital drew comfort from having a peer-like companion by their side, and demonstrated how robots can be used to boost learning. As Breazeal explained, “This is about a different vision for AI. There’s so much emphasis right now on tools for professionals, and there’s not a lot of deep thinking around how AI is going to benefit everyone.” The studies, Breazeal added, “show that there’s a lot of promise with these technologies in the real world… making a real difference.”
This year’s forum also included a diverse array of speeches that offered an all-encompassing look at the state of artificial intelligence development today. These included presentations on topics covering advancements in reinforcement learning, mutual information neural estimation, socially and emotionally intelligent AI, personal assistant robots, and precision medicine via machine learning. The developments discussed at the Samsung AI Forum 2018 represent great strides toward creating an AI-connected future.
Samsung Electronics announced today that it will open a new artificial intelligence (AI) research center in New York City, the U.S., to strengthen its AI capabilities.
Located in the heart of Chelsea, the New York AI Center will be led by Daniel D. Lee, Executive Vice President of Samsung Research and a global authority in AI robotics, who joined Samsung Electronics last June. With cooperation from a leading authority in neuroscience-based AI technologies, H. Sebastian Seung, Executive Vice President of Samsung Research, the New York AI Center will spearhead the advanced AI research in robotics. As the Chief Research Scientist of Samsung Electronics, Seung will also advise Samsung on advanced AI research in developing future business growth opportunities.
“What we need now is to focus on creating new values that make people’s lives easier and more convenient by harnessing the power of AI in Samsung’s products and services,” said Hyun-suk Kim, President and Head of Samsung Research, the advanced R&D arm of Samsung Electronics’ device business. “To do this, our Global AI Centers, including the New York AI Center, must play a pivotal role.”
Samsung has announced plans to expand its advanced AI research capabilities to employ about 1,000 specialists by 2020. This will be Samsung’s sixth AI center around the world, and it will work in partnership with Samsung’s other AI research facilities. The additional AI centers are located in Korea, the U.K., Canada, Russia, and Silicon Valley, the U.S.
“We are excited to open a new Samsung AI center in New York, which will specialize in robotics research,” said Daniel D. Lee. “New York is one of the world’s great cities, and with this new facility we will be able to leverage the tremendous talent in the area. We also look forward to collaborating with top universities and academic centers in the region.”
The facility is located at 123 West 18th St, New York. The facility’s opening ceremony was held on September 7th in New York City, with about 100 guests in attendance including President Kim; Seunghwan Cho, Executive Vice President of Samsung Research; Geunbae Lee, Head of Samsung AI Center in Seoul; Professor Daniel P. Huttenlocher, the Dean of Cornell Tech; and Professor David Tank, Director of Princeton Neuroscience Institute.”
“The field of AI has made revolutionary progress by finally embracing neural networks,” said H. Sebastian Seung. “This is just the beginning of a new era of innovation in AI, and we at the Samsung AI research center in New York are proud to be part of this exciting quest.”
The global AI Centers will contribute to Samsung’s AI research with their unique regional strengths, and Samsung is expected to expand its AI centers to other technology and talent-rich areas to cement its place as a leader of AI research in the industry.
For more details on Samsung Research and the global AI Centers, please visit the official Samsung Research webpage at http://research.samsung.com.
Last month, Samsung Electronics Brazil announced the launch of Samsung Audio Acordes (Chords), a free application that teaches people with visual impairments to play the guitar in a practical and intuitive way. The initiative is part of Samsung Social, a project from Samsung Electronics Brazil that uses technology to unlock human potential and invites people to Do What You Can’t.
Using a voice system, Samsung Audio Acordes acts as a facilitator for blind or visually impaired people to learn to play the guitar. The app offers beginners an audio dictionary that teaches them how to play chords and can also tell users when to play which chord as a song progresses. It is especially helpful because the app eliminates some of the barriers such as the need to know how to read braille, which is only understood by 10% of visually impaired people in Brazil, or having to stop playing every now and then to read the music with the same hands they play the instrument.
“Samsung believes in the human potential and in the transformative power of music and technology which has resulted in Samsung Audio Chords,” said Andrea Mello, Director of Corporate Marketing, Samsung Electronics Brazil. “The application is part of the company’s effort to offer people with visual impairments the opportunity to pursue their dreams of learning to play the guitar. It was designed in such a way as to offer total support and accessibility, even for those who are only learning their first chords.”
CEO Yong-guk Kim shares that startups should jump into the market early on to stay relevant – obsessing to polish their device to perfection could cause them to miss the right timing to present their solutions to market
It all started in Maui, Hawaii, where Yong-guk, was on his honeymoon. As he gazed up at the starry night sky from the observatories, he tried his best to capture the breathtaking view with his professional grade digital camera. But his high-spec device couldn’t do anything beyond what all traditional cameras can do, which was to capture the view that lies in front of the camera lens. As an avid blogger and photographer, he had always desired a camera that could capture an awesome view in its entirety.
“People only ever get to see what is in front of their eyes. But seeing the scene from all directions is a totally new experience,” said Yong-guk Kim, CEO of Linkflow. “It records the sky and the clouds in it; it captures all the little moments you may have missed.” With this value proposition, Samsung Electronics’ C-Lab spin-off Linkflow’s product ‘FITT360’ that is expanding the camera market with its ability to “capture and share moments in 360° true First-Person-View.”
The Flagship Product
The FITT360 is a completely new product for the camera market – a wearable camera device, in the form of a neck band, that takes 360-degree footage.
“I once took it on a biking trip to shoot a promotion video. It was eye-opening to see how 360-degree footage made the scene look so different even though the surroundings were quite familiar,” said Hae-jeon Shin, marketing head of Linkflow. “It’s a new idea to capture how you blend into your surroundings with your own camera. It’s totally different from taking a selfie.”
Mass production of the FITT360 has already started, and it has been winning global recognition, for example being selected as a CES 2018 Innovation Award Honoree in the Digital Imaging & Photography category. The FITT360 also gathered eight times more funding than the team’s initial goal of $50,000 on Kickstarter.
Securing New Opportunities in the Market
After meeting various potential buyers at CES, the Linkflow Team saw an opportunity in the B2B market and came up with an upgraded product – FITT360 SECURITY. “Security companies from all over the world were excited about our product,” said Yong-guk. “It was like nothing they had ever seen before, yet it was clearly a great fit for their jobs. No other body cam out there could record a 360-degrees view, and instantly transmit clips.” Shin added, “We were even asked to sell samples of the first iteration when we participated in security exhibitions in London and Las Vegas.”
While fate has led Linkflow to first focus on B2B – namely, the security industry – it continues to seek further opportunity in the customer end. FITT360 has potential applications as a personal security device. It can be used to record extreme sports. But above of all, the team holds high hopes on the growing need from content creators such as YouTubers.
“The product is ideal. You can simply swing it around your neck while you pursue outdoor activities and hobbies, even when paragliding or surfing. The fact is that these contents exist today, but YouTubers and bloggers are burdened with bulky filming equipment,” the CEO explained.
The Trials that Tempered the Team
With the enthusiasm that FITT360 SECURITY has received in the B2B world and Linkflow’s ongoing pursuits in the consumer sector, it’s clear that the spin-off and the team have come a long way. However, as a growing venture, the team recounts the trials they’ve overcome together to stay passionate and ambitious. “It wasn’t all just rainbows and butterflies,” says Kim as he describes the countless disappointments he encountered in the search for Linkflow’s first partnerships.
“Once we left the cradle of Samsung, we were essentially nobody. Initially, there wasn’t a single company – investor or supplier – that was willing to work with us,” Kim recalled. “Some wouldn’t even talk to us as they didn’t feel that we were worthy of their time. We barely managed to gather the parts needed for our product.”
Even when Linkflow earned opportunities to present their business, it was hard to sway their dubious and skeptical attitudes. Sometimes they just don’t focus, Kim said. “I once gave an entire 10-minute presentation for a potential customer, only to hear him ask back, ‘So, is this a camera?’”
“At first it’s very depressing,” Kim recalled. “You tell yourself ‘it’s just business’ but rejection after rejection, your confidence just drops. Then comes defiance – it’s like ‘let’s see who smiles at the end.’ After even that comes a state of Zen. You just keep going until you get a result.”
Though they only got their first funding in their umpteenth meeting and partners in other business aspects were just as difficult to come by, the emotional roller coaster ride resulted in success and Linkflow has found its share of partners. Kim says that the experience made the team a bit wiser: “You grow a feel for whom to contact. Larger companies have various divisions that look after different parts of their businesses and you have to ask yourself: ‘who would need our technology the most?’ For us, managers of technology partnerships proved most fruitful.”
Developing as a Work-in-progress
Ever since its C-Lab days, Linkflow was confident in their unique product concept. But their source of pride was also the reason that made the process difficult. “We didn’t have anything to reference, or anyone to ask for advice,” said Junse Kim, head of product design, Linkflow. “We took the trial-and-error approach. We would quickly build a prototype, dog-food it, collect feedback and improve the device – again and again.”
“Many companies miss the opportunity to share their product concepts because they focus too much on polishing their devices,” Yong-guk points out. “Of course it’s important to provide quality products but as a start-up, you want to make sure your product is relevant. And the surest way to ensure that is to ask the final judge of it all – your customers. Timing – when to show the world what you want to do – is key.”
FITT360 actually started out as a head band the sat on the ears, but was eventually modified to a neck band as a result of such trial-and-error. Part of the reason was for functionality – good height and stability. Sitting on the neck, the cameras can capture the surroundings from an optimal view – very close to eye-level. It is also less susceptible to motion and vibration as the neck and shoulders move much less than the head.
Another part was to prevent it from offending other people. A device that resembles the form of a pair of glasses or an earphone could seem like a surveillance device and people could get the impression that they are being watched – they don’t like that at all.
Even after settling on the neck band form factor, the FITT360 went through numerous modifications based on various user feedback. “One example? Detachable cameras and battery,” said Junse. “It made sense after we heard the thoughts but was something we didn’t consider enough in the first three iterations.”
The enormous amount of suggestions Linkflow still receives are almost overwhelming. “Some policemen asked us to add a siren and flashlight, while military officers asked for a heart rate sensor that can read and share vital signals in real-time,” said Junse. “Since those businesses are mostly B2B, we are considering on creating custom models to meet each group’s specific needs. Besides, policemen, firemen, security guards… their uniforms are all different – buttons, shoulder boards, collars, measurements and all – so we need to customize the neck band designs anyway.”
Linkflow believes that this kind of flexibility will help them continue to grow.
Pursuing Continuous Growth
Many start-up businesses decide that survival is enough and seek to maintain status quo once they see a stable business. “Instead, you have to push further,” says Yong-guk. “Samsung’s C-Lab initiative encourages you to keep digging for new ideas and that, I think, is what got us to where we are.” And that is what Linkflow plans to continue to do.
“Competitors can copy the shell of our product but they don’t know how and why we changed each nook and cranny of FITT360 – and details matter,” stresses Yong-guk. “Coming from Samsung, we plan to adopt the same rapid-development strategy you can see in Samsung’s products. We start preparing the next-generation model right after mass production hits, so that by the time your competitors offer something similar, we’re already unveiling the upgraded version and providing the previous one at a better price.” Linkflow believes that better technologies and new ideas will continue to give them the edge and that will help catapult them to the top of the industry.
The ultimate goal is to go beyond 360-degree cameras and become a household brand in the content creation industry. “C-Lab provides a strong and systematic support network that helps lay down the foundations and goals of running a business. That’s why we were able to continue to pull through and continue to push further.”
This article is the fourth of a four-part series to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the C-Lab spin-off program. For more information, tap the image below:
Started from a project at Samsung’s C-Lab, Cooljamm Company is an IT start-up that develops musical platforms, established by former Samsung engineers with a special passion for music
Cooljamm Company created HumOn, a mobile app that listens to the user’s vocal sounds and creates a song from the input. The service is gaining worldwide popularity and is available free of charge
Cooljamm Company is open to business opportunities fields such as education and video music production – not just for profitability but also for a long-term survival plan in the industry
Building on HumOn’s early success, Cooljamm has been accepted as a Berkeley SkyDeck Cohort team for Fall 2018, where it will continue to develop its new product, Scenergy, an AI music-creating platform for video music
The leadership of the Cooljamm Company puts ‘trust’ in their employees first for the company’s growth. Experts with and without a background in music are part of the team and are encouraged to adhere to their unique workstyles
Everyone loves music. While some people love a specific genre, one universal truth is that everybody appreciates music, sings to their favorite songs every day, or even hums and makes up their own melodies. But because it’s hard to create, there are no social media services specifically made for music.
The absence of such a music-creating tool was why Samsung Electronics employees – David Choi, Joe Ahn and Youngki Ahn, now leaders of a C-Lab spin-off called Cooljamm Company – gathered at C-Lab in 2015. It is no surprise to say that these three are passionate music lovers. CEO David Cho has experience playing seven instruments including piano, viola, drum and guitar on stage. CTO and Director Youngki Ahn is an excellent piano player, and Director Yukyung Lee, also part of Cooljamm Company, is an electric guitar performer. The team could, in fact, form a band themselves.
It is their love for music that let them begin the biggest technological journey of their lives. Now based in Silicon Valley, the mecca of IT innovation, Cooljamm is flourishing with passion and enthusiasm – trying out more new things and mingling with more people than ever before – to create music services that everyone can enjoy.
The Flagship Products– HumOn and Scenergy
Started as a project at Samsung Electronics’ C-Lab and now an independent application created by Cooljamm Company, HumOn is a mobile application that employs 600 thousand machine-learned chord progressions to let you make a song only by humming. Downloaded over 750 thousand times and constantly a hot topic on sites like Twitter and Reddit, HumOn is gaining more and more popularity among global music enthusiasts.
“Anything can become music with HumOn,” said David Choi, CEO of HumOn. “Let HumOn listen to a baby crying or babbling at home. Funnily enough, the crying and babbling becomes music – into a ballad or whichever musical genre you choose.”
Albeit initially developed in Korea, 70% of HumOn users live outside the peninsula. “It just happened to be that way,” said Choi. “We think it’s the different user preferences. While Korean users tend to show polished, professional-sounding pieces, other users around the world are more open-minded about doing new things and sharing their work at a more conceptual stage.” To date, more than a million melodies have been created with the app.
Cooljamm Company eventually found out that HumOn users, usually online video creators, also were making background music for their videos with the app. Spotting this opportunity, Cooljamm started developing Scenergy – a dedicated service that makes customized music for videos that are not subject to copyright infringement.
“-Scenergy uses the same technologies as HumOn where melodies can be created in different styles, but the interface design and the use of the service will be a lot different,” commented Choi. While Scenergy is still in the development phase, Cooljamm is confident it will be able to “add energy to scenes” – hence the project name.
In Employees, Cooljamm Trusts
Although the founders each play musical instruments at a better-than-intermediate level, they wanted to polish the artistic touch in the music HumOn produces. So in addition to electronics and software experts, Cooljamm Company hired music professionals, who majored and/or started their career in practical music. Their intuition and insights for music systematization played a big role in converting that knowledge into computer code.
In the process, empowerment and trust have been the keys to Cooljamm’s success. With such a diverse workforce, it is not easy to understand the differences between people. But Choi and company learned that good teams are born in the process of trying to understand each other. “Everyone has different backgrounds and needs, and wants to do different things. We can’t do much but to trust them,” said Choi. “At Cooljamm Company, we respect each employee’s style and characteristics. It’s not being selfless – it just happens to be the best way to get the most out of people. Working hours are flexible, and employees stick to their own style.”
COO Joe Ahn agreed, “Each great new idea is the result of an accumulation of different ideas that came before it. People are the most critical set of assets of a company. Of course, our customers are important, but the company has to treat its staff best first to provide the best service to its customers.”
An Ever-Learning Process
Much like the app that evolves itself with AI and machine learning, Cooljamm Company has trained itself to continue to learn. For one thing, the company learned that HumOn isn’t just for personal use. The company is continuously fielding requests from educational and musical organizations for collaborations. In fact, Cooljamm Company is already working with a French company to launch a special music education platform in France.
The music industry is also keeping an eye on Cooljamm. “Billboard hit producers are contacting us. They mostly suggest collaboration projects,” said Choi. “Musicians find HumOn interesting in that different sounds can be incorporated into one music piece. Music distributors are also interested because HumOn does not require any copyright fees and is a good tool for making music in bulk by eliminating production costs.”
In addition to learning to explore the B2B space, Cooljamm has also recently encountered another unique opportunity to grow – the company became part of SkyDeck an accelerator program at the University of California, Berkeley. Although there were concerns about physically splitting up the team, especially when the core technologies for Scenergy are still being developed, leadership stuck to its belief in its team members.
With Cooljamm joining as a –receiving support in KPI measurements, management advice and more until November – Cooljamm will now work in two different time zones. The HumOn team will remain in Korea to focus on the app’s marketing and operational capacities. And a separate team will be dispatched to Silicon Valley to take part in the SkyDeck program and develop Scenergy, mainly for the US market.
For Survival and Success in the Music Industry
“The very structure of profitability in the music business is very tightly built, and it’s hard to hit the jackpot within the current structure. We need to find the right spot in the market to find profitability,” said Choi. “What we need to do to survive (as a start-up) is find our own way in the current situation.”
“We want to increase the profitability of the HumOn service by introducing in-app advertisements and providing premium services with mixing and arrangement features,” says Ahn. “Besides the app itself, we are planning to enter the online-to-offline market and education market.”
The company is also considering an early launch for Scenergy by this November to secure a sustainable income source sufficient enough to build a social media-based service upon it.
While the company is focusing on its short-term goals to learn and grow, Cooljamm’s management remains confident in their vision. “What’s promising is that music has always been here for thousands of years,” says Choi. “People will always enjoy singing and dancing. And the opportunities to make a living while helping more people enjoy music will always be there.”
This article is the third of a four-part series to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the C-Lab spin-off program. For more information, tap the image below:
uSound for Samsung, an app that helps users to test for potential hearing loss, will be distributed throughout the Argentinian province of Jujuy
Last Friday, the uSound for Samsung project was officially launched in Purmamarca, Jujuy. The event was attended by Argentinian President Mauricio Macri along with hundreds of people from different communities throughout the Jujuy province. uSound for Samsung facilitates the early detection of hearing loss through a simple three-step process using a smartphone and a pair of headphones.
According to the WHO, over 5% of the world suffers from hearing loss, with estimates showing that more than 3 million people in Argentina experiencing this problem. By encouraging early detection, authorities hope to avoid irreversible hearing loss, encourage learning and promote cognitive development in children, facilitate social inclusion, and raise awareness about hearing loss so appropriate public policies can be made.
The uSound initiative is spearheaded by young entrepreneurs from Jujuy and presents innovation with purpose, allowing for simple and effective technologies to help people detect potential hearing loss using just their smartphones. The app then provides users with a risk report allowing them to take the appropriate action and get further advice from a hearing loss specialist if necessary. The data collected will also contribute to the intelligent allocation of resources for the communities that require them. uSound and the government of Jujuy share an ambitious goal: that this local project will be promoted, developed and spread throughout the world, therefore helping more people and inspiring new solutions in the future.
The launch event took place at Los Colorados in Jujuy. The first 300 audiometric tests were conducted, with the total number in the Jujuy province expected to reach 30,000 in the next three months. There was also VR content available which illustrated the difficulties people with different levels of hearing loss experience, enabling guests to empathize with those affected and get a taste of what they go through.
During the event, Jujuy’s Governor Gerardo Morales highlighted the work of the young uSound team and recalled their humble beginnings in Tilcara, saying, “From a 4 × 4 room, with great effort this team have created an application that has been recognized by various institutions around the world, including Harvard, demonstrating the best of Jujeño’s entrepreneurship.”**
Sang Jik Lee, President of Samsung Argentina, said, “This project proves that when we work together, we can do the impossible, using innovation with purpose as our guide.”
Ezequiel Escobar, CEO and co-founder of uSound, said, “We held this event at Los Colorados because it connects us with our Pachamama, with our roots and because we wanted to show that it is possible to innovate in Jujuy and make a difference globally. It is in this context that today, together with Samsung and the Jujuy Ministry of Health, we are implementing technology with a purpose. uSound for Samsung is a free mobile tool to detect potential hearing loss that will have an immense scope. Starting in Jujuy with 30,000 tests over the next 90 days, we hope to reach 500,000 users by the end of the year in Argentina and millions worldwide.” **
Yongsoo Jeong, CEO of Mangoslab, made up his mind to leave Samsung Electronics to launch his own spin-off after deciding he had the right people
Mangoslab’s flagship product ‘nemonic,’ a mini printer that merges digital technology into the analogue experience of sticky notes, started from a project within Samsung but evolved into so much more after continuous input from the experts that Jeong assembled
Mangoslab continues to enhance nemonic’s user experiences, listening to their loyal customers’ advice
Yongsoo Jeong was stuck in a dilemma – Should I continue to work at Samsung Electronics or start my own company? Jeong reached out to people who had the same mindset as himself and sought advice.
Jinah Kim, a colleague he previously worked with, remained optimistic even when his current C-Lab project fell through. Sangyeon Kim, a software developer whom Jeong met through a friend, maintained his friendly approach. Hanjun Ko, who had the least idea what he’s signing up for, says he didn’t have a hard time deciding to join Jeong for the spin-off. “When we finished our conversation, I was ready to be a part of the team because of the mindset that he had. I knew that I could work with someone who can think outside of the box.”
In 2016, Jeong was ready and he took a leap of faith. And so together with Kim, Kim and Ko, he launched Mangoslab from an internal C-Lab project into an independent startup.
The Flagship Product – nemonic
Since spinning off from Samsung Electronics, Mangoslab has already built an impressive resume. nemonic, the company’s first product received the CES 2017 Best of Innovation Award in the Computer Accessories category. It also won Grand Prix at the Tokyo International Gift Show Spring 2018. Subsequently, Mangoslab saw its sales rapidly rise, motivating the team to keep their efforts going and growing.
Mangoslab’s first flagship product, “nemonic,” is a device that instantly prints three-by-three-inch sticky notes from smartphones and tablets. Jeong and his team mapped out a vision for an evolution of the sticky note to fit the digital age; an experience that would transcend the divide in analogue and digital experiences. nemonic allows users to organize all or part of their ideas and reminders, print it out, attach it where they desire and further scribble on it as the need presents itself.
Building on planning and experience from an idea that was initially started within Samsung Electronics, Mangoslab was determined to bear the torch so many colleagues had toiled for and see the project through. When asked how the company quickly took off in just two years, Jeong said, “We built a team of experts and then trusted them wholeheartedly, focusing on supporting what they are good at.”
Mangoslab believes in the power of people – almost to a fault. “The starting members including myself knew that the spin-off would never make it if we had to do everything by ourselves,” said Jinah Kim, Mangoslab’s Director of Design. “We needed to survive first and in order to lead our spin-off to success, we needed more talent, experts in each respective field, to grow our company.”
Jeong looks back at the rocky recruiting process. “I had years of experience in product development from my years with Samsung Electronics. But I was not at all prepared when issues began to arise during the mass production process. So we sought to hire an expert who had decades of experience in the manufacturing field,” said Jeong. “For Sales and Marketing,” he recalls, “we found a former CEO that had his name all over the job.” The middle-aged manufacturing veteran, in his 50s, took a lot of persuading to work with people decades younger than he. As for the sales-expert-slash-ex-CEO, who was about to go on a multi-year voyage around the world, Jeong went on to literally beg him to push off his planned expedition and join Mangoslab’s cause.
Other recruits, who were asked to join a startup with not much guarantee, required similar degrees of due diligence. When asked what they’re expected of, Jeong simply says: “Keep doing what you do best.” Today, thanks to Jeong and the company’s continuous efforts, Mangoslab employs 23 members – three additional Samsung Electronics alumni and sixteen ‘external’ recruits – and the company prides itself in having zero dropouts (so far).
Similar to their recruiting philosophy, Mangoslab says they believe in letting their people do their jobs. Each person in a small company is the driving force for their cause and Mangoslab’s leaders are determined to see this idea through.
“I realized that it’s better to let each team make decisions like an individual startup,” says Jeong. “You need to let the managers enjoy what they’re doing. A big part of that is relieving them of bureaucratic processes. So for each team, we have a leader that makes decisions and about four members per team to share the burden and learn from each other.”
For example, nemonic is the only mini-printer in the market with a 3-inch module while competing products use a cost-efficient 2-inch module – the result of a product planner’s market insight; a 21 year-old marketer spearheaded a local awareness campaign on social media – an initiative that may not have made it through layers of bureaucracy many office workers run into; the charismatic director of manufacturing was left free to literally run around the factory in his sleeveless undershirt, solving problems as they sprouted.
The expertise-comes-first philosophy also manifested itself in product design. Mangoslab initially focused on developing a product that is easy to manufacture. But as the experienced designer attested to providing a premium experience, management agreed to changing the design despite the additional components and steps in assembly it would invoke. As a result, nemonic adopted an unprecedentedly high quality automatic cutter that gives you a clean square finish instead of tear-off edges like cash register receipts. It also features a patented technology that straightens the prints so they don’t curl up.
Similarly, the final product features a curvy top rather than a flat square. Jeong trusted the designer’s expertise and decided to go with the design that resembles the shape of swirling paper, reminding the main element that the printer itself symbolizes. Last year, nemonic nabbed the Good Design Award at the Design Intelligence Award ceremony.
Focus on People – Customers, Also
Another important pillar in Mangoslab’s philosophy is sincerity. Jeong and his team are fixated on listening to what their loyal customers have to say. Ideas for updates and additional products have sprung from this process.
“A user who was preparing for the National Teacher Certification Exam in Korea left a request on our homepage,” Jinah recalls. “She was using our product to print test questions she got wrong and make notes for future reference. She wanted us to create a dedicated feature for that.”
It’s a popular practice in Korea and Japan to keep a record of the wrong answers a student made in standardized tests. This rang a bell for the Mangoslab and they decided to pursue the idea that resulted in a separate app helping users separate the desired content from the white background and allowing them to print out clear copies of problems from the tests they took.
The software team also found that some users were business owners who wanted to print quick notes, with personalized messages for their customers, to slap on their deliveries. Some café owners used nemonic instead of industrial point-of-sales systems, to instantly print incoming orders for their baristas – notes that can then be stuck on beverage cups to prevent mix-up.
Ultimate Goal: to Spin Off Mangoslab’s Own Startups
While it may sound uncanny for a startup with 23 employees, CEO Yongsoo Jeong stresses that the main goal for his company is to part ways with each other, smiling. The starting members agreed on three major goals when spinning off from Samsung Electronics. The second and third goals are to create products that consumers love from their hearts and to make nemonic a household brand in the mini printer market.
“The first and most important goal is to part ways smiling,” says Jeong. “If our employees want to leave, we want them to do so knowing that they’ve accomplished their share here and are appreciated. Most ideally, I want to commission them with their own businesses – like how Samsung helped me establish my own business. I learned about entrepreneurship with my C-Lab project and wish to bless my employees with the same kind of opportunity.”
This article is the second of a four-part series to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the C-Lab spin-off program. For more information, tap the image below:
Innomdle Lab became the first company to be spun off from C-Lab – Samsung’s idea generation and entrepreneurship program
Despite early success with its body conductor unit technology, raising 2.2M U.S. Dollars through crowdfunding, the company had to overcome a number of challenges to mass produce the final product – an experience CEO Hyunchul Choi is now eager to share with his peers
Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that starting a business involves overcoming setbacks and a whole lot of learning along the way.
That’s certainly true for Innomdle Lab. As innovative as their idea is, it caused them to go on a journey of discovery, product refinement and perseverance. But the company’s founder will attest to the fact that this period in the business’ growth was worth it. They now have a product that could change the way we talk.
As the first to be given that honor, the founder of Innomdle Lab was in uncharted territory. Although he had access to leading thinkers and experts at Samsung, nothing could have prepared him for what he would face when he launched out on his own as a separate company.
“I would have given up easily if I was on my own,” said Hyunchul Choi, the CEO of Innomdle Lab. “But I saw the efforts of other members for the product, so I just couldn’t give up. I never wanted to give up. I’m working way harder than when I was working for Samsung Electronics. It’s very tiresome, but I gained a lot through the process.”
The flagship product from Innomdle Lab is called Sgnl. Using unique body conduction unit technology, Sgnl enables users to take phone calls simply by placing their fingertip on their ear. And only the user can hear the conversation so they can keep their call private. They no longer have to pick up their phone to call – they can fit conversations into their busy schedules by making calls easily on the move. Driving this technology is a body conduction unit that looks like a regular watch strap. It connects to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth and contains an embedded microphone that picks up the user’s end of the conversation.
Sgnl sounds as futuristic as it does convenient and the product has quickly captured the imagination of backers who rushed to support the product on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Innomdle Lab set a precedent here too. It was the first C-Lab company to successfully crowdfund their product this way. It was also one of the largest amounts a crowdfunding project from Korea has ever raised. The project now has an army of supporters who want to see Sgnl succeed.
Although Innomdle Lab had the backing and blessing from Samsung, it was still a challenging journey to get to market. The company had to deal with suppliers, attract and communicate with financial backers – all while adjusting to life as a startup after working for a large corporation like Samsung. It was tough but it formed a valuable part of the learning process for the company.
One key learning came early on in the development of Sgnl: just because a product is innovative, doesn’t mean everyone will automatically want to use it. A former brain science student, Choi had insight into how the brain and connected nerves relate to each other and relay information.
He wanted the Sgnl to use electrostimulation to enable users to privately make phone calls that others nearby couldn’t hear. But when he attended a C-Lab fair with his prototype, nobody felt comfortable enough with the concept and they didn’t want to try the product. It was back to the drawing board. He had to completely redesign the product using vibration technology instead.
“I was worried about the product looking less innovative, because the users had to put a finger on an ear to make a call so I conducted global consumer research with a mockup model,” said Choi. “As a result, I found out that people liked putting a finger on an ear. They liked it more, because it was a traditional motion of making a phone call, it felt more intuitive, and you could let other people know that you were on the phone.”
But what felt like a setback opened up new opportunities. Everyone has different bone structures so the same vibration pattern can create different signals for each person. This could be used as a security tool in the future in the similar ways to fingerprints and irises. For example, this technology could be used in the future to open doors just by holding the doorknobs that recognize the unique vibration patterns, nullifying the need of a separate key.
Despite the promising potentials of body conduction technology, mass production for Sgnl presented a series of challenges. Innomdle Lab had to work with partners to create the circuits, mouldings and injections. Over a three-year period, the company was spurned by many potential partners and let down by many others who over-promised and under-delivered.
“Many of them didn’t even let us in for a meeting, and we had to beg for them to make our products even if we were paying for that,” said Choi. “Startups have to find good partner companies. We have changed manufactures many times and the launch was delayed for about a year. In terms of money, this cost us an estimated loss of one billion won.”
With these experiences now in his rear-view mirror, Choi advocates for startups, especially fellow C-Lab spin-offs, to share information with each other about their experiences with partners to help others from falling into similar cycles of delays and losses.
The Road Ahead
But it all paid off. Innomdle Lab now has a product they’re happy with and they’re in a place where they can mass produce the Sgnl product. For Choi, he’s glad he was able to persevere and learn more about his product, the target market, the technology, and more importantly, himself as an entrepreneur.
Innomdle Lab was founded on the vision of being a medley of innovation. The ethos is based on the fact that most startups live and die by a single product, and if that product fails, the entire company follows suit. Innomdle Lab believes it can continue to innovate as long as it can maintain its processes. Although Sgnl is a long time in the making, the second product was only in development for seven months.
The company is working hard to keep the drum beating with another noise cancelling hearable device coming up as well as technologies outside of the audio product category in the R&D pipeline.
Choi places a great emphasis on the importance of the C-Lab project and the opportunity he has been able to pursue that would have been much more difficult otherwise. He remains a strong supporter of the incubator/spin-off model to the point that he plans to replicate it in his own company. His door also remains open for other C-Lab spin-off companies who follow after him.
“Everyone here is very talented, but they are currently working for a small startup. They have to be rewarded for their sacrifices and ambitions,” said Choi. “I want to give my team members the chances to start their own companies and for Innomdle Lab to be an academy for them to acquire the necessary skills to do so. By doing this, we can create a medley of innovations that expands beyond my company. I want to keep creating new cycles of innovation.”
Choi was fortunate in that he had a lot of support at the spin-off stage from Samsung Electronics’ management. There were a lot of naysayers who suggested to Choi and the other C-Lab startups that this was simply another way to lay off staff. But one staff member put this assertion to an executive, who oversaw the spin-off initiative, directly in a meeting.
“I still remember his answer,” Choi recalled. “He said that Samsung Electronics cannot commercialize every idea, no matter how hard you work on the project. He saw many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or startups succeed based on those ideas.” Samsung wants to give chances to such brilliant ideas and the people who worked hard for the opportunities “and it would be even better if the entrepreneurs could build on the expertise they honed in Samsung,” Choi recalls the president saying. “If the spin-off companies survive for five, or 10 years in the jungle of competition, then Samsung would ultimately be contributing to the larger tech community. Wouldn’t that be a great way for large and small innovation companies to coexist?”
This article is the first of a four-part series to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the C-Lab spin-off program. For more information, tap the image below:
Last week in Purmamarca, Jujuy Province, Argentina, the Government of Jujuy, uSound and Samsung Electronics Argentina signed an agreement to help residents of Jujuy detect potential hearing loss and provide steps to minimize its impact
The project, dubbed uSound for Samsung, will help give Jujueños access to a simple three-step preliminary diagnosis* that can be done on a smartphone
While those diagnosed with hearing loss can take necessary actions for their individual cases – taking preventive measures to avoid total deafness, getting hearing aids, learning sign language, etc. – those who do not know what’s happening to them are subject to a more frustrating experience. This is especially true for children who may lose the chance to develop their cognitive skills and pursue higher education.
Using Technology to Bridge the Gap
uSound for Samsung is an initiative designed to bring technology to people with hearing loss – to help detect the risk of hearing loss and thus improve their quality of life in such essential aspects as communication and education.
uSound Test is an application that allows users to detect their risk of hearing loss for free. In about 10 minutes, the app reproduces pre-calibrated sounds that users give feedback to. Comparing the results with its database, the app detects specific frequencies the user has difficulty hearing. uSound Test then analyzes the auditory curve that results from the whole test to determine the degree of risk of hearing loss in the person.
Once finalized, uSound for Samsung issues a report with the result, which is a risk indicator that allows users to take corresponding actions. This test is not a medical diagnosis so the app will recommend support from hearing health specialists when needed.
Through uSound for Samsung, the company hopes to use its technology and resources to:
Raise awareness about hearing loss and improve public policies
Avoid irreversible damage to hearing organs
Encourage learning and cognitive development for children
Develop speech and facilitate social inclusion
Contribute to a more egalitarian society
Working with the Community
The Government of Jujuy will provide support in resources and workspaces for the hearing loss-detection campaign. uSound will continue to help improve hearing experiences with its products, including the aforementioned test and an app that turns the cell phone into an auditory assistant**. Samsung Electronics will provide the necessary technology to carry out a first pilot test of uSound Test in health centers across Jujuy as well as financially supporting the project.
As a team, the Government of Jujuy, uSound and Samsung Electronics Argentina will help give a larger part of the Argentine community access to tools to potentially change lives through the use of technology.
Governor Gerardo Rubén Morales, Jujuy Province: “It is a pleasure to accompany uSound, a company from Jujuy, take on its challenges. With the support of Samsung, this project will impact thousands of people with hearing problems. It is great that this project started in Jujuy. We hope it can be replicated throughout Argentina and in other countries – technological innovation knows no boundaries.”
Ezequiel Escobar, CEO and co-founder, uSound: “We witnessed a truly historic opportunity for our company and for Jujuy. This plan, using our technologies, will benefit many people from Jujuy and has the potential to expand to help many more people around the world. We are talking about a huge impact that grows even more with the support from Samsung and the Ministry of Health of Jujuy.”
Cynthia Giolito, Senior Manager, Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Electronics Argentina: “uSound for Samsung reinforces our mission to offer technology with a purpose that improves quality of life. We are very proud to embark on this path and we hope to have solid results that will promote hearing accessibility in more places.”
* Not a medical diagnosis
** Not a hearing aid
*** Translated from Spanish and edited for clarity
Have you imagined a future city where a 5G communications network connects things in your daily life? The Samsung Electronics Newsroom video provides a sneak peek at the forthcoming ‘5G City’ future.
Samsung Electronics has established the ‘5G City’ to demonstrate certain aspects of the upcoming 5G era, where things will be connected throughout the world with a 5G communications network. ‘5G City’ is located within ‘Digital City’ of Samsung Electronics in Suwon, Korea, and is made up of three parts: the ‘5G Stadium’, the ‘5G Connectivity Node’ and the ‘5G Kiosk’.
The ‘5G Stadium’
The ‘5G Stadium’ is what could be called the sports stadium of the 5G era. Using a massive MIMO (multiple input multiple output), a key evolution technology toward 5G, the stadium offers an environment where dozens of people can watch high-definition streaming videos seamlessly. The lagging replay videos at a baseball stadium will soon become a thing of the past. It is applicable for crowed venues like sports centers, concert halls, conference areas and more.
The ‘5G Connectivity Node’
The ‘5G Connectivity Node’ represents one of the focal aspects of 5G technology in the smart city. CCTV cameras, digital signages, and all sorts of sensors are connected through 5G and other technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee. This enlarges network capacity which connects more sensors and enables more accurate and intelligent way to monitor traffic, measure temperature and stream diverse content. Eight high-definition CCTV cameras and the video analysis software of a security company detect the driving speeds of cars and pedestrians jaywalking. This information can then be shared across the 5G network, so that the central control tower can access the information simply through a tablet device to overview the control status from outside. When artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are added to the city in the near future, smarter and safer city control services can be implemented.
The ‘5G Kiosk’
High-speed download becomes a breeze with the ‘5G Kiosk’, the hot spot of 5G era that allows for super high-speed download. When a 5G test bus drives into this area, download speeds reach 1~3Gbps, a 500MB file can be downloaded within five to six seconds. With the most optimal technology and equipment of the 5G era, the ‘5G Kiosk’ zone will be able to provide new services such as high-definition video, map download and large software updates for autonomous vehicles.
An interview with Jihie Kim, Head of Language Understanding Lab, Samsung Research
The question of how AI technologies understand human dialog and queries to suggest an optimum answer is one of the hot topics in the AI industry. Jihie Kim, Head of the Language Understanding Lab at Samsung Research AI Center, is also striving to develop the technology behind an AI algorithm that can talk with people naturally and propose solutions to a problem.
The Language Understanding Lab led by Dr. Kim recently grabbed global attention after placing top ranks at global machine reading comprehension competitions held by Microsoft and the University of Washington, respectively. Samsung Newsroom visited the Samsung Research AI center in Seocho-gu, Korea to interview Dr. Kim about AI performance in the machine reading comprehension competitions and a future evolution plan for AI algorithms.
Q. Please tell us about the MS MARCO and TriviaQA competitions held by Microsoft and the University of Washington, respectively, where your team ranked first place.
Kim: There have been many global machine reading competitions recently where AI presents solutions to a problem. MS MARCO and TriviaQA are among the top five global competitions in machine reading comprehension. AI algorithms are tested on whether they can understand and analyze questions to offer answers. Those tests are designed by referring to internet users’ queries and search results.
Q. What do you think was the critical factor in excelling at the AI competitions which require such high levels of technical expertise?
Kim: The ConZNet algorithm developed by the Language Understanding Lab at Samsung Reseach is upgrading its intelligence by considering real user environments. The algorithm takes natural language into account such as how people deliver queries and answers online. We were able to win those competitions because the MS MARCO and TriviaQA competitions are about AI capabilities in real user environments. In truth, our algorithm was a bit behind other competitors in tests requiring a simple answer to a question after analyzing a short paragraph. But because such technologies have low relevance to real environments using AI technologies, we are focusing on the other tests such as MS MARCO in proceeding with continuous R&D.
Q. Do you apply the winning algorithms to customer services in real life?
Kim: An Open Lab event was held recently to introduce the labs at Samsung Research to other departments in Samsung Electronics. At the event, we had in-depth discussions with engineers in our home appliances and smartphone departments about AI algorithms. Departments dealing with customer services also showed high interest in what we do because AI-based customer services including chatbots are emerging as a hot topic. We hope that our technologies developed at Samsung Research will be naturally adopted to Samsung Electronics products and services.
Q. What is your future evolution plan for advancing AI technologies in language understanding?
Kim: ConZNet is an acronym for “Context Zoom-in Network.” The name implies that understanding the context of what people say is critical. We need to advance AI technologies to help them understand and analyze short sentences. AI algorithms also need to have capabilities to analyze real-time news reports rather than existing data to give answers to customer queries. We are also developing technologies where an AI algorithm can answer, “there are no proper answers to your query,” as well as search for right answers. The so-called “rejection problem” is an AI technology with a high level of technical difficulties.
Q. Please tell us your ultimate goal in developing AI technologies.
Kim: The strengths of Samsung in the AI industry are that we can build a knowledge system about connections between machines and applications, and customer demands in the internet of things (IoT) environment comprised of personal devices, based on Samsung Electronics’ diverse product lineup. This will help us to achieve the goal of realizing a user-oriented AI system by collaborating with global partners in the industry. Samsung Electronics recently began to launch global AI Centers and we will lead the effort of working with AI experts at the new centers abroad.
Samsung Research, the advanced R&D hub of Samsung Electronics’ SET (end-products) business, has ranked first in two of the world’s top global artificial intelligence (AI) machine reading comprehension competitions.
Samsung Research recently placed first in the MAchine Reading COmprehension (MS MARCO) Competition held by Microsoft (MS), as well as showing the best performance in TriviaQA* hosted by the University of Washington, proving the excellence of its AI algorithm.
With intense competition in developing AI technologies globally, machine reading comprehension competitions such as MS MARCO are booming around the world. MS MARCO and TriviaQA are among the actively researched and used machine reading comprehension competitions along with SQuAD of Stanford University and NarrativeQA of DeepMind. Distinguished universities around the world and global AI firms including Samsung are competing in these challenges.
Machine reading comprehension is where an AI algorithm is tasked with analyzing data and finding an optimum answer to a query on its own accord. For MS MARCO and TriviaQA, AI algorithms are tested in their capabilities of processing natural language in human Q&As and also providing written text in various types of documents such as news articles and blog posts.
For example in MS MARCO, ten web documents are presented for a certain query to let an AI algorithm create an optimum answer. Queries are randomly selected from a million queries from Bing (MS search engine) users. Answers are evaluated statistically by estimating how close they are with human answers. This is a test designed to apply an AI algorithm to solve real-world problems.
Samsung Research took part in the competitions with ConZNet, an AI algorithm developed by the company’s AI Center. ConZNet features skillful capabilities through adopting the Reinforcement Learning** technique, which advances machine intelligence by giving reasonable feedback for outcomes, similar to a stick-and-carrot strategy in a learning process.
With the recent acceleration in global competition to develop AI technologies, contests are widespread in areas of computer vision (technologies to analyze characters and images) and visual Q&A to solve problems using recognized images of characters as well as machine reading comprehension. The Beijing branch of Samsung Research won the International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (ICDAR) hosted by the International Association of Pattern Recognition (IAPR) in March, putting them in a top-tier group for global computer vision tests. The ICDAR is the most influential competition in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technologies.
“We are developing an AI algorithm to provide answers to user queries in a simpler and more convenient manner, for real life purposes,” said Jihie Kim, Head of Language Understanding Lab at Samsung Research. “Active discussion is underway in Samsung to adopt the ConZNet AI algorithm for products, services, customer response and technological development.”
* Competitions such as MS MARCO and TriviaQA allow contestants to participate at any time, and rankings are altered according to real-time test results.
** The Reinforcement Learning is the most advanced Machine Learning AI algorithm, and cutting-edge AI technologies including AlphaGo are upgrading machine intelligence by applying this technique.
Technology is dramatically changing our world. As we are in the midst of the digital transformation, mobile and smart devices have become an inextricable part of our lives.
As CMO of Samsung Electronics, I am often asked what technology means for the future of marketing and creativity. Behind this question I believe lies a deep-rooted concern – how will technology transform creativity? Will technology be the downfall or saviour of creativity? The rise in data engineered campaigns has the capability to remove the human connections we all need.
Technology is, and always was, about change. And change brings challenges. I know this, not just because of my role, but through my personal experiences.
Before joining Samsung, I worked in the beauty industry. Without any background in technology, it felt like I had landed in a foreign country when I made the change from cosmetics to tech 11 years ago.
My role is to use what I have learned to help transform Samsung from a technology-focused, to consumer-centric company. Features and specs, of course, are important. But they only tell part of the story. No matter how fast or powerful a processor is, it only becomes meaningful when its capabilities are weaved into people’s lives.
Samsung’s Relúmĭno is a case in point. Harnessing the capabilities of the smartphone camera and VR devices, the application helps visually impaired people see the world with clarity. With the potential to transform lives, Relúmĭno shows how technology can give voice to millions around the world to narrate their own stories.
When we look at innovations through a humanistic lens, technology can become a powerful catalyst for creativity.
Take 5G for example. With the speed of data transfer that 5G can bring to us, I believe 5G technology could drive an exponential change to our world. 5G will fuel the fourth industrial revolution. When we speak about how 5G will change the way we live, work and play, the story suddenly becomes even more inspiring.
A Brand-New Era
As a marketer at Samsung, I see that technology is writing new rules for creativity on a micro, as well as macro, scale. Brands are changing the way they communicate as new cultural values emerge with technological innovations.
With the proliferation of technology, brands are no longer bystanders in society. They can now make a difference at scale. Samsung’s DYTECTIVE, an app designed to diagnose dyslexia quickly and for free, shows that a simple idea can produce profound results.
As people are better informed and entertained than ever before, they are seeking much more than material comforts, which drives brands to create experiences with a deeper meaning.
Greater connectivity and mobility has also turned consumers from viewers and bystanders, into active participants. This opens a whole new level of relationship between brands and people, in other words, a new dimension of creativity for brands and marketers.
Do What You Can’t
Technology will transform creativity, for the better, by inspiring all of us to achieve the impossible.
When we aspire to enact change and stand by values that seem improbable, we are compelled to find solutions that are truly transformational.
At Samsung, it’s part of our DNA to enact change and stand by values that seem improbable.
Do What You Can’t is more than a slogan. It’s a call to action.
* This editorial is based on YH Lee’s address at Cannes Lions 2018.
Samsung Electronics today announced that it is adding prominent artificial intelligence (AI) experts Dr. H. Sebastian Seung, the Evnin Professor in the Neuroscience Institute and Department of Computer Science at Princeton University, and Dr. Daniel D. Lee, the UPS Foundation Chair Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania, to expand its global AI R&D capabilities.
At Samsung Research, Drs. Seung and Lee will play a central role in building up fundamental research on AI that will advance human knowledge with the potential for revolutionary business impact. “Samsung is a company with a long history of pursuing innovation, and is committed to tapping the full potential of artificial intelligence,” said Dr. Seung. “I look forward to working at Samsung to help discover what lies ahead in AI.”
Now an eminent computational neuroscientist, Dr. Seung originally studied theoretical physics at Harvard University. Before joining Princeton University in 2014, he worked as a researcher at Bell Labs and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He serves on the Advisory Committees of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) program on Learning in Machines and Brains. He is also an External Member of the Max Planck Society, the winner of the 2008 Hoam Prize in Engineering, and the author of Connectome.
Likewise, an authority in AI and robotics, Dr. Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from MIT. After working as a researcher at Bell Labs, he joined the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. Lee is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), a Fellow of the Institute of the Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and on the Executive Board of the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Foundation, which runs the premier machine learning conference in the world.
“I am eager to be joining Samsung Research and to help develop next-generation technologies for Samsung Electronics,” said Dr. Lee. “Fundamental research and understanding of machine learning and robotic systems will be key to fulfilling the promise of AI.”
Drawing inspiration from the brain, the two researchers jointly developed algorithms for machine learning by nonnegative matrix factorization. Later on, Dr. Seung devised an electronic circuit modeled on the brain’s cerebral cortex and featured on the cover of the journal Nature, published one of the first walking robots with reinforcement learning, pioneered the application of convolutional networks to image segmentation, and helped found the field of connectomics that reconstructs the brain’s wiring diagrams with AI.
Dr. Lee has developed a number of leading machine learning algorithms in addition to cutting-edge robotic systems throughout his career. He has pioneered innovative algorithms for unsupervised and reinforcement learning which draw inspiration from the brain’s neural circuitry. He has also led research teams to build advanced intelligent robots for a variety of tasks, including self-driving cars, humanoid robots, and collaborative robot teams.
Samsung Research, which reorganized as an advanced R&D hub of Samsung Electronics’ SET Business last year, recently established global AI Centers in five countries including Korea, the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Russia. Leading the latest effort, Samsung Research plans to continuously increase its number of AI Centers and advanced researchers to expand its R&D on AI platform.
Samsung Electronics today announced the opening of the artificial intelligence (AI) Center in Russia, which will be located in the “White Square” business center in Moscow. The Center will help the company strengthen its leadership in the field of AI and explore the broad capabilities of user-oriented AI.
The new Center’s main research areas will be computer vision and basic algorithms for AI platform. The Center will also expand the field of AI for key areas such as robotics, intelligent driving assistance, as well as those for future projects by Samsung.
The Samsung AI Center in Russia will be led by Professor Dmitry Vetrov of the Higher School of Economics (HSE). With a Ph.D. degree in Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Vetrov is also the Head of Samsung’s laboratory at the Center for Deep Learning, and Bayesian Methods Research Group at the HSE.
As the leader of the Center, Professor Vetrov will combine scientific work and administrative activities: interacting with Samsung’s divisions and third-party institutions, organizing the Center’s overall work, managing work groups, as well as controlling and participating in scientific research. Professor Viktor Lempitsky of the Skolkovo Institute of Science Technology will also join the team as the leader of the research group.
“Samsung has always been the first to introduce new products and solutions that change the way people interact. Considering Russia as one of the world’s biggest hubs in the field of technical sciences, it is only natural that we chose the country as one of the sites for our new AI Center,” said Ultack Kim, President of Samsung Electronics Headquarters in CIS countries. “A team of the world’s best scientists and IT specialists at the AI Center will help Samsung bring its robotics and AI technologies to a whole new level.”
While there currently are several joint AI laboratories at Moscow State University, the Higher School of Economics and the PDMI RAS, the new Center will establish additional joint labs with Russia’s leading universities. In addition, Samsung will conduct projects with the local universities and different regions of Russia including Kazan, Samara, Rostov-on-Don, Tomsk, and Novosibirsk. Considerations regarding cooperation with Russian start-ups to solve practical problems are also under discussion. Moving forward, these can be developed into full-fledged services related to AI and machine learning, as well as promising developments in the field of applications and components for the company’s products.
“Samsung plans to introduce AI technologies to all of its connected devices and services by 2020. AI will enhance our customer value by offering information and services under any circumstances,” commented Jin Wook Lee, the Head of Samsung R&D Institute Russia, at the opening of the new Center. “This will be a huge step for the world of technology, and will help simplify the implementation of everyday tasks,” he added.
As the popularity of Internet of things (IoT) devices grows, the area of application of AI-based solutions is expanding rapidly. According to the forecast of Samsung experts, IoT devices with built-in AI will generate enormous amounts of data in the coming years. By processing this information, the devices will be able to provide maximum personalization and full compliance with the users’ needs.
“Currently, AI is one of the most promising branches of technology. The opening of the Samsung AI Center in Russia will allow us to contribute to the development of the industry and to apply the achievements of the Russian mathematical school, which has a high level of practical training of research specialists,” said Professor Vetrov.
Earlier in May, Samsung has opened two new AI Centers in Cambridge (UK) and Toronto (Canada). More information about Samsung AI Center in Russia and global AI Centers is available at Samsung Research website.
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
Accessibility may not be a commonly used word, but it is quite a familiar term for developers who work for technology companies like Samsung Electronics. At core, accessibility means providing the same opportunities to everyone, including, for example, people with disabilities, children, women who are pregnant, and the elderly, in using technologies and products without inconveniences. Samsung’ developers apply various technologies to ensure accessibility, by listening closely to the feedback of those with disabilities, and developing tests so they can directly experience the inconveniences themselves.
In this article, Samsung Newsroom introduces technologies which Samsung is developing to provide accessibility for “anyone and everyone,” and have the potential to dramatically help those with disabilities, the elderly, and many others.
Galaxy S9 and S9+ adds three new high-contrast keyboards
With mobile devices being essential to so many activities in daily life, Samsung has also focused on equipping its smartphones with more specific accessibility features including high-contrast features for smartphones. Also, this year, Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones have added three new high-contrast keyboards, for a total of four, and also support High Contrast Mode for the Internet App to satisfy the growing needs for accessibility.
Galaxy smartphones provide many accessibility features for visibility, hearing and dexterity. The Voice Assistant describes what you touch, select, and activate through spoken feedback, and allows visually impaired users to edit text or change settings with familiar swipe and tap gestures. The smartphones can also aid those with hearing impairment by catching the sound of a doorbell ringing or a baby crying and notifies the user through visual cues and vibration. Users can access features on their smartphones by giving voice commands or simple motions.
Samsung DeX connects a smartphone to a larger display and provides better navigation for people with limited mobility or vision. Bixby assists even further. Visually impaired people can easily identify an item in front of them with Bixby Vision, which uses the phone’s camera app to relay information about one’s surroundings. Bixby Voice also eliminates the need to go through multiple steps to accomplish a mobile task, allowing users, for instance, to dictate and send a text to a friend or check their daily schedule with a simple voice command.
“Because the Galaxy S9 can transcribe what I would like to say in a message, I can save a lot of time and energy by not having to type it. In this way, Bixby instills in me a sense of confidence when communicating with others,” said Gwangman Moon, who has impaired vision.
Fundación ONCE, the National Organization of the Blind in Spain, recognized the Galaxy S8 as “a device that is properly equipped for visually impaired users” in July last year. Inho Baek Samsung’s Mobile Accessibility UX Designer, received the Human Rights Award 2017 by the Korean government as a recognition of his efforts to provide improved accessibility.
In addition, Samsung’s Creative Lab (C-Lab) is also actively developing practical technologies to help people with disabilities. For instance, Relúmĭno, a visual assistant app that helps visually impaired people see the world more clearly, has been a recent, notable creation.
“SeeColors” breaks down the ‘Color Barrier’ for 300 million around the world
Samsung has already introduced accessibility functions to their TVs, including a high-contrast feature for background and text, and voice feedback of features on the TV and remote control. Thanks to these efforts, Samsung has been awarded CES Innovation Awards in the Accessible Tech category for four consecutive years since 2015.
In 2018, Samsung further upgraded the accessibility functions of its QLED TVs and UHD TVs. Now, users can adjust the colors of the menu in line with their vision, and interchange the color of the text and background between black and white, and use an industry-first function to adjust the location of the subtitles on screen. Another standout feature is the “SeeColors” app designed to help the 300 million people living with color blindness around the world, and developed in collaboration with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The app recognizes the color vision deficiency level of a viewer, and then automatically optimizes the colors for the user.
“We will continue our research and development of accessibility features in our TV development, so that everyone can enjoy an optimized viewing experience,” said Jonghee Han, Head of Visual Display Business, Samsung Electronics.
Bixby for easier use of home appliances
This year, Samsung has embedded the Bixby voice recognition feature into its new home appliances, including Family Hub refrigerator in Korea and the U.S. For instance, you can just ask “Hi Bixby, what’s new today?” and the Family Hub will provide a read out of the news, weather and calendar updates specifically tailored to the user.
Samsung also was able to provide 150 washers and dryers, including FlexWash powered by Bixby, to the athlete’s village of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in March, to further share its recent innovations in accessibility with the wider public.
A visually impaired individual who tested the FlexWash at home during the development process said, “While laundry may be a simple daily task for others, it can be difficult for those with visual impairment. With FlexWash, I was able to do laundry on my own for the first time in my life.”
Samsung’s home appliance technologies hone in on detail to provide greater accessibility. For instance, the Family Hub provides features including Black and White, Menu Color Conversion, and font size adjustment, to cater to those with visual impairments in the U.S. The devices also provide spoken feedback about the features of the device or the buttons on the remote control. This year, the home appliances were also upgraded to produce a different sound effect upon activating each function. For example, now people with vision impairments can monitor the temperature level of the refrigerator, or different laundry cycles of a washing machine through different sound effects.
Samsung will actively apply IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in future launches to provide improved accessibility and allow devices to activate the most suitable features for every user.
Focusing on solutions for the real-life inconveniences of people with disabilities
Samsung’ Digital Appliances Division invited a volunteer panel of users with visual impaired people to the HeX Lab* in its Seoul R&D Center, to hear about their inconveniences when they use digital appliances in daily life. The division continues to improve accessibility by engaging and listening to the feedback of organizations supporting those with disabilities every month, and is also undertaking joint research with Korean universities related to development of accessibility.
Every year, Samsung’s TV developers also conduct tests with groups of people with disabilities and experts in order to reflect their opinions during development. Often, Samsung employees with disabilities also participate in development and tests for accessibility features to provide their feedback.
Since 2016, Samsung’s Mobile Division has also sponsored the “Samsung Supporters” program to communicate with users with disabilities in order to improve accessibility together. In addition, Samsung gives presentations about accessibility feature regularly, and is conducting “Smart Angel” volunteer activities for the fifth year this year to guide visually impaired users how to make better use out of smartphones.
“I feel proud to be able to contribute to the improvement of smart device accessibility,” said an ambassador with impaired hearing. “I’ve learned a lot about accessibility through communicating with Samsung, and now I’m also sharing with others how to better use these features.”
*The research lab is built similarly to mimic a real home.
**Disclaimer: The functions or features mentioned in this article may vary according to product type and region.
Assisted by Relúmĭno, Samsung’s vision-enhancing app, people with visual impairments were able to see the finer details, taking in the movements and the facial expressions of a live performance, many for the first time.
Art and Technology Striving for Inclusion
As the world becomes increasingly fast-paced, everyone can feel that they are being left behind. The importance of accessibility and inclusion in both the arts and the field of technology has never felt more urgent.
Directed by acclaimed Korean choreographer Eun-Me Ahn, Candoco’s performance tackled the subject of inclusion and accessibility head-on. Dancing together, disabled and non-disabled performers prompted the audience to consider life’s daily ups and downs, and the process of all people – with and without disabilities – finding balance in a complex society.
By its nature, dance is a visual medium of art, limiting access for those with low vision. However, the team behind Relúmĭno saw an opportunity to extend the reach of ‘Good Morning Everybody’ and amplify its message by further increasing accessibility. They invited people with visual impairments from all walks of life to the theater to watch using Relúmĭno.
Joining the Conversation
Even before the curtain rose, as Relúmĭno users tried on the VR headsets and adjusted the fit, excitement was buzzing around what they were about to see.
Anticipating the performance, Do-yeon Kwon, a young movie fan, shyly smiled and said, “I can see when I sit on the front row, but my neck hurts and it’s really uncomfortable. I think ‘Relúmĭno’ could be part of the solution.”
Afterwards, it was clear that the piece had taken on a special meaning for those who viewed it through Relúmĭno.
Min-sol Kim described how, in the past, she would have to re-watch performances online after seeing them live to catch every nuanced movement and subtle expression. After watching ‘Good Morning Everybody’, she expressed her emotions at seeing every detail she wanted to: “Right in the middle, when a dancer in a wheelchair got onto the ground using just his arms and delivered an emotional solo, I cried.”
It was also a source of motivation for Gyu-cheol Shim, who suffers from macular degeneration but is himself overcoming the condition through performance and art.
Learning from the Experiences of Others
The developers were eager to talk to the audience and find out more about their experiences with Relúmĭno. Conversations like these inspire the team, helping them to appreciate the impact that the application has on its users.
“Those who use the device in their everyday lives give us the most ideas,” remarked team member Chan-won Lee. “They use it in ways that we could not even imagine.”
Previously, insights from Young-suh Noh, for example, led to the development of a function which allowed the talented pianist to quickly switch between reading music and looking at the piano keys, greatly improving the speed at which he could read and learn new music.
Likewise, choreographer Ahn expressed her desire that we all learn from the Korea-U.K. collaboration and increase awareness of disability in the arts, saying: “Our collaboration proves that our perceptions are indeed changing.”
The stage is a place which is at once unique for each individual and inclusive of everyone, and where barriers are repeatedly broken. Just as Candoco Dance Company is bringing down the wall between disabilities and art through their performances, ‘Relúmĭno’ hopes to bring down the wall between people with visual impairments and live performance.
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.
Did you know that the future of driving is right around the corner? At CES 2018, Samsung and HARMAN showcased some of the innovations that will be featured in the vehicles you will experience in the future. This includes a Digital Cockpit, made to enhance the experience of driving, telematics using top-of-the-line 5G connectivity, and even autonomous vehicle technology.
Eventually, people will be driven by their cars – not the other way around. This will open the door to new possibilities. Cars will be a personalized workplace, entertainment center and a vital part of your digital life. And the best thing is, these efforts will also include functionalities to make driving safer and more enjoyable than ever. Samsung and HARMAN are committed to using their deep, combined technological experience to create the revolutionary car of the future. These videos will show you how.
The potential of artificial intelligence (AI) is exciting and vast, with researchers just starting to understand all the potential applications. However, one solution which users can tap into now, to experience how AI can make their lives more convenient and easier, is Samsung Electronics’ HomeCare Wizard. The unique AI-based service solution, available on Samsung’s 2018 smart home appliances, essentially enables devices to diagnose themselves for not only system errors, but to enhance efficiency and to help users use their appliances better.
To provide an example of how HomeCare Wizard works, just imagine if a refrigerator starts to provide less cooling than usual. HomeCare Wizard will immediately detect and provide an alert that something is off, as well as diagnose the cause of the problem without requiring the visit of a technician. Through analysis of usage patterns, HomeCare Wizard will also help users better maintain and utilize their appliances, like reminding them when it’s time to clean the washing machine tub or providing tips to ensure the best energy efficiency.
Let’s take a closer look at HomeCare Wizard and the intelligent benefits it is set to provide.
What is it?
HomeCare Wizard made its debut with the recent launch of Samsung’s QuickDrive washing machines, and utilizes AI learning to offer users benefits that go above and beyond the scope of similar diagnostic services. Whereas similar services’ diagnoses are typically limited to cut-and-dry system errors, HomeCare Wizard’s advanced algorithm also alerts users of less obvious factors that may be affecting their device’s efficiency, in particular non-system related errors. For instance, if the air conditioner’s breeze isn’t quite cool enough due to something like a contaminated filter, which a user can easily clean on his or her own, HomeCare Wizard can quickly diagnose such issues.
Therein lies another of the solution’s key benefits. If HomeCare Wizard determines that a particular issue does not require a service professional to be dispatched to a user’s home, it will provide simple instructions to help users solve the problem by themselves. This reduces the need for users to schedule such visits, and helps them find the solutions they need faster.
Identifying and explaining an issue’s exact source can also be difficult at times and in such cases a user will need to call a Samsung service center to get to the bottom of the problem. As HomeCare Wizard sends the device’s diagnostic data directly to the service center, the service center will be fully aware of the nature of the problem before the call is even made.
Why is it So Compelling?
More often than not, when appliances don’t behave the way users are supposed to and it is difficult to figure out why, the result is hours spent scouring the web or contacting a service center for answers. In other instances, users are forced to wait for a technician to visit their home. The promise of HomeCare Wizard, through AI, is the potential to change this paradigm as smart devices and appliances essentially diagnose, and even give solutions, themselves.
HomeCare Wizard’s technology also has the added benefit of making it easy for users to monitor energy use and usage patterns, and utilize their devices more efficiently. Users have the option to receive regular usage reports through the mobile app, which in addition to offering 24-hour troubleshooting and diagnostics, will provide customized tips based on users’ usage patterns to help them get more out of a particular appliance. This means that, for example, a washing machine with HomeCare Wizard can determine which laundry cycles are used most frequently, notify users of how often they’re doing laundry, and present them with the option to save their top three most frequently used cycles as ‘favorites’.
How Does it Work?
To provide such deep-level analysis, HomeCare Wizard compares a device’s previous operation alongside its current status in order to diagnose recurring problems. Through the constant study and improvement of algorithms by Samsung’s Digital Appliance development team, HomeCare Wizard has been developed to analyze and study changes in sensor data at the industry’s most comprehensive levels, while the appliances are running. The more often users use their devices, the more precisely HomeCare Wizard can suggest solutions.
Where Can I Experience it?
HomeCare Wizard will be available on a wide range of products in Samsung’s 2018 smart appliance lineup, including the company’s latest washing machines, Family Hub refrigerators, air conditioners, cooking appliances, and robot vacuum cleaners.
In a few years time, users may not have to figure out how to operate different devices individually or make a choice between services. Instead, the new world of connected devices and services based on artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to recommend and perform, on their own, integrated and seamless functions for users in and across environments from the home to office to car.
For example, in the home, when a user wakes up in the morning on a rainy day, the home lights will gradually brighten, while music fit for a rainy day is selected and played in the background. A cup of coffee will be prepared as soon as the user says “coffee” while stepping into the kitchen and the refrigerator will also recommend meal ideas for the day, asking the user whether he or she would like to buy ingredients online.
In the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, Samsung Electronics is uniquely positioned to bring this world of connected AI services to life, based on the almost half a billion connected devices the company sells every year. In fact, given the typical lifecycle of a device, there are more than a billion Samsung devices actively used around the world at any given time.
Samsung’s device portfolio also is the industry’s broadest, and includes mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and wearable devices, office devices such as PCs, signages and Samsung Flip, devices for the home such as Samsung Smart TVs, Family Hub and FlexWash and FlexDry, and much more.
At this year’s CES, Samsung highlighted its latest innovations in its vision to drive the Internet of Things (IoT) supported by AI. Samsung Smart TVs now integrated with Bixby, are able to play music and shows personalized for users, as well as show who is at the front door or what is inside the refrigerator. The Family Hub refrigerator, also integrated with AI, recognizes the voices of different family members and provides each of them with a personalized daily schedule.
Moving forward, Samsung will continue to remain focused on holistically integrating AI into a connected setting, such as the home or the office, in contrast to other players primarily pursuing implementation of AI on a few devices and services. In the following months, Samsung will integrate not only Samsung devices, but also IoT devices and sensors developed by external partners into the SmartThings eco-system, allowing a single SmartThings app to control everything. Furthermore, Samsung also plans to integrate AI into all its connected devices by 2020.
In the coming years, many IoT devices with AI support will generate a vast array of usage patterns and scenarios. How AI-enabled devices learn and analyze complex usage patterns and provide consumers with the most optimized options will be critical to the success of AI technology for the near future. In other words, the success of AI will boil down to how well the devices understand the users.
Therefore, Samsung’s perspective on AI is to build an eco-system that is user-centric rather than device-centric. To pursue that goal, we will start by building an AI platform under a common architecture that will not only scale quickly, but also provide the deepest understanding of usage context and behaviors, making AI more relevant and useful.
For the past decades, Samsung successfully introduced products and innovations by researching the lifestyle and behavior of global consumers. Paying respect to our heritage of user-centric product development, Samsung will begin an exciting journey open to boundless possibilities in new user experiences by integrating AI into the open IoT ecosystem it is currently developing. This journey will certainly be fascinating for us here at Samsung, but even more so for consumers, as Samsung takes major steps forward to bring consumers’ hopes and expectations to life.
Samsung welcomed participants to its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Summit on January 16-17, hosted by Samsung Research America at Mountain View that brought together more than 300 leading academics, technical experts, and university students. The event explored ways to accelerate AI research and to understand the best commercial applications of AI.
“AI and machine learning are major strategic imperatives for Samsung. There’s no doubt that, in the coming years, these technologies will completely change the way people interact with every device in their lives, from phones and wearables to home appliances and cars,” said Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer at Samsung Electronics, and Chairman of the Board at HARMAN. “For this to happen, we believe AI must be open—so we can harness the talent and expertise of a vast ecosystem of companies, and ultimately give consumers smarter, simpler, more meaningful interactions with the devices they love. This Summit underscores our commitment to an open, collaborative AI ecosystem, and serves as a call to action for all researchers and entrepreneurs who share our vision for a more connected world.”
Samsung’s AI Summit opened with a keynote by the company’s Senior Vice President of AI Research, Dr. Larry Heck, a world-renowned leader in AI and voice recognition who has led AI teams at Microsoft, Google and Nuance. During his talk, Dr. Heck outlined the need for increased industry collaboration to drive broader adoption and consumer confidence in AI technology. He also advocated for the importance of making AI open to 3rd parties.
“This is an incredible time in our industry. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are becoming mainstream, used by millions each year. Yet, we need more collaboration in the industry—from companies to academics and researchers—to let AI flourish,” said Dr. Heck. “It’s time for us to find new ways to work together to ensure AI serves the needs of people first and foremost.” As a part of this collaborative effort, Samsung plans to host many more AI-related events around the globe this year.
Dr. Heck also shared Samsung’s plans to tap its massive device ecosystem to learn user preferences and needs. “Under a common architecture, Samsung’s AI platform will not only scale quickly, but will also provide the deepest understanding of usage context and behaviors, making AI more relevant and useful,” he said. Attendees at the event also heard from experts at Google, MIT, Carnegie Mellon and the University of California at Berkeley.
In November 2017, Samsung announced the creation of a new AI Research Center dedicated to applied research and development in the space. Samsung’s new AI research center plans to open additional AI research labs in Canada, the UK and Russia in 2018 to strengthen the company’s AI research efforts.
This year at CES, Samsung showcases Relúmĭno glasses – smart visual aid eyeglasses to help people with vision challenges see images clearer when they are reading a book or viewing an object. And Relúmĭno and Relúmĭno glasses are expected to help people with visual impairments to utilize the technology more comfortably.
But what exactly did it take to develop a product like Relúmĭno? Last year, Samsung had partnered with Professor Moon Nam Ju’s team at Department of Ophthalmology of Chung-Ang University Hospital for clinical trials involving Relúmĭno. Here, Professor Moon discusses the team’s effort to make Relumino more convenient and helpful for people with visual impairments.
Q. Please introduce your clinical research team.
The low vision clinic of Chung-Ang University Hospital has oculists, nurses, opticians and hospital social workers. It provides support for people with low vision to help them overcome the obstacles of their everyday life and achieve a better quality of life. Our clinic and Relúmĭno, a project team of Samsung C-Lab, worked together for the clinical trial.
Q. How did you become a part of Relúmĭno development?
I was always concerned with ways to help patients with low vision in their rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many of these patients consider themselves blind and give up on treatment, resulting in lost opportunities to get better. When Jeonghun Cho, Leader of Relúmĭno, came to me with his plan for Relúmĭno, it was a new inspiration. I joined the project willingly as Leader Cho’s intentions were good and genuinely focused on the well-being of patients.
Q. Please explain the clinical trials for the development of Relúmĭno.
We recruited patients with vision impairment who also know how to use electronic devices. We surveyed the patients to find out what low-vision aids they were already using, the purpose of these visual aid devices as well as the patients’ satisfaction level of the device. We also analyzed clinical improvements of patients by repeating visual function examinations of maximum corrected eyesight on long and short distance, contrast sensitivity as well as reading speed before and after using the devices.
Q. How did the examinations proceed?
Patients who were not satisfied with the conventional, low vision aid devices were mostly positive about the clinical trial. Among low vision patients who participated the trial, around 40 patients were selected to be examined for their visual functions without using any aid devices. After explaining to the patients the functions of Relúmĭno and how to use them, we reexamined the patients.
Q. Regarding research design and trial procedures, was there anything you considered particularly?
Most of the people with low vision use magnifiers to see objects in short distances. For long distances, telescopes can be used, but they are not as useful as they are not easy to carry and make users’ visions narrow. When we designed Relúmĭno, we wanted to make a vision aid device that can support both short and long distances at the same time. Also, we wanted to add a function that can help the patients with damages to macula lutea to see clearly as those patients could not be helped with the conventional optical vision aid devices.
Q. What was the result of clinical trials?
A total of 39 patients out of 40 completed the trial and their average age was 54.64 (standard deviation 22.70). Over 97% of patients had significant improvement in their vision in short, medium and long distances while using the device. People with low vision who had a maximum of 0.1 in corrected eyesight used Relúmĭno to achieve up to 0.8 corrected eyesight.
Also, their contrast sensitivities and reading accuracy increased significantly in statistics. On device satisfaction, all patients responded that they are satisfied with the performance of Relúmĭno, and more than half (54%) of patients answered that the device was easy to use. Also, as the patients rated their average visual functions for everyday activities around 11.7 points (total 30 points), but the number increased to 19.5 points after using the device.
Q. Has there been any feedback from the patients with low vision in the clinical trial reflected in Relúmĭno? Please explain which feedback was well implemented.
Relúmĭno went through several improvements to become the product that you see today. We had several meetings to listen to what the patients have to say. In the beginning, patients had difficulties with dizziness, slow focusing speed and difficult control over the device. The Relúmĭno team immediately reflected patients’ feedback and updated based on the patients’ wants, and that is one of the most important reasons why the result is so successful.
Q. Can you give us some cases where patients received huge benefits from using the Relúmĭno app?
All patients who participated the research were very much satisfied with Relúmĭno. One of the patients, who could only see the front from an “eccentric view” by turning the head due to damage of macula lutea, was happy that Relúmĭno eliminated the need to turn the head to see the front using a relocation function. Also, another patient who suffered from depression due to unemployment status after losing sight used Relúmĭno app and regained strength to live a normal life again. That patient got another job and thanked us several times.
Q. Please tell us your expectations on Relúmĭno in the future.
Lately, many people are interested in the area of low vision, but there are not enough rehabilitation facilities and resources for people with low vision in Korea. As the saying well begun is half done, I hope Relúmĭno would be the foundation of drawing more attention and supports for people with low vision to give them courage and hope to achieve their better future.
For those of us in the tech and related industries, the start of each new year represents a period for our own personal moments of reflection, but also as professionals and those passionate about technology to share and envision together the latest in technology innovation at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
For the past several years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has remained the industry’s biggest buzzword for its promise of delivering seamless connectivity across the multiple devices and technologies that we interact with in our daily lives – from our smartphones to smart TVs to Family Hub refrigerator to even our cars. Yet while the vision has been alluring, with IoT and related technologies still maturing, the promise has always remained ‘a few years off’.
At CES 2018, our aim, at Samsung, will be to show you the work we’ve done to change that, and to begin delivering on the promise of a connected world, today.
Across the many and various devices consumers interact with in their places of business, homes, and while on the go, each is typically encumbered by a different setup process, password to remember, and interface to learn and manage, which has made the connected experience anything but easy.
At Samsung, we decided to do something about this, and at this year’s CES, we’ll be sharing our breakthroughs to make the IoT experience easy and intuitive for you, which has involved delivering seamless connectivity between any device through a single experience, backed by an integrated ecosystem to manage all the devices in close, fluid synchronization.
The connected experience we will be introducing also is powered by a personalized intelligence interface, with the aim of ensuring you are able to tap into all the potential and power this connectedness provides, as easily as if you were flipping a switch. Understanding that innovation on this scale and delivering on a truly connected world can’t happen in a silo, we’ve also worked closely with industry partners as part of the largest IoT standardization body, the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), which I will also be sharing about further at the show.
Until now, the promise of a world of connected devices has remained too fragmented, and as result too complex and difficult for consumers to navigate or practically take advantage of. However, a connected world, should be anything but. It should work for you, and make life easier for you. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you further on how Samsung is bringing this vision to reality now in just a few days time at CES 2018.
Samsung Electronics announced today that, at CES 2018, it will introduce three innovative new projects, developed from its C-Lab (Creative Lab) program. In addition, seven start-ups which have been spun off from C-Lab will showcase their newly released commercial products at CES to explore new business opportunities.
“Since launching five years ago, our C-Lab program has gained exciting momentum across Samsung, helping foster an innovation culture, and providing avenue for our creative, talented employees to pursue innovative new projects. We will continuously introduce innovative projects through our C-Lab program” said Jaiil Lee, Vice President and Head of the Creativity & Innovation Center at Samsung Electronics.
The three new C-Lab projects include:
S-Ray (Sound-Ray) is a portable directional speaker which users can carry anywhere. While existing directional speakers are primarily stationary due to their size and price, S-Ray is a directional speaker that is made much smaller, lighter and portable with its unique system module while maintaining the advantages of conventional directional speakers and/or earphones. S-Ray helps people avoid having to put on earphones for a long time which can cause ear pain, and avoids the distractions to others Bluetooth speakers can cause. At CES 2018, S-Ray will showcase a variety of product options such as Neckband, Handy and smartphone cover.
GoBreath is a recovery solution for people who have experienced lung damage and suffer from postoperative pulmonary complications after general anesthesia. Patients commonly need to exercise deep breathing for faster recovery, with one of the conventional methods through use of an inspirometer. However, deep breathing becomes challenging for patients who have undergone surgery due to lung pain. A doctor at Samsung Medical Center came up with the concept of GoBreath, which helped his patients recover faster, and consists of a portable device and mobile app that can teach patients basic techniques such as inspiration, coughing or deep breathing. Patients can refer to exercise guidelines and check how well their lungs have recovered through the app. GoBreath even offers a web and cloud service for doctors to help them monitor their patients’ recovery progress as well as provide reminders to practice.
Relúmĭno glasses are smart visual aid eyeglasses to help people with vision challenges see images clearer when they are reading a book or viewing an object. The Relúmĭno app was first showcased at Mobile World Congress 2017, and Relúmĭno glasses were subsequently developed to enable people with visual impairments to utilize the technology more comfortably and discreetly. The glasses work in conjunction with a smartphone, utilizing its processors and batteries, which makes Relúmĭno glasses light and comfortable to wear. The smartphone processes images from videos projected through the camera of the glasses, and the processed images are floated into the display of the Relúmĭno glasses to help the wearer see things better.
In addition to these projects, seven start-ups which have been spun off from Samsung C-Lab, including LINKFLOW, Kitten Planet, lululab, KIDSOFT, Mangoslab, Innomdle lab, and analogue plus, will participate at CES 2018 to showcase their newly released commercial products and explore global business opportunities.
As notable example, the wearable camera FITT360 by LINKFLOW was awarded the CES 2018 Innovation Award in the Digital Imaging category. Initially, the start-up focused on personal travelers in the B2C market, but recently has been focusing on a B2B model for the security industry with a model which features extended battery capacity.
Created in December 2012, C-Lab is an in-house idea incubation program that encourages a creative corporate culture and nurtures innovative ideas from Samsung employees. The program supports the development of ideas from all areas of the business. Introduced in 2015, the C-Lab spin-off policy helps Samsung employees who have successfully completed C-Lab projects to launch their own start-ups. Samsung supports the spin-off companies through seed money investment and business consulting to accelerate their growth, while guaranteeing their independent management.
For more information, please visit the booth #51765~#51774 in Sands, Hall G (Eureka Park Marketplace) from January 9 – 12, 2018.
‘LINKFLOW’ has developed a neckband-form wearable 360 camera that records full HD video from the first-person viewpoint. The video can be broadcast in real time using automatic stitching technology. Originally, its main target customers were personal travelers and sports athletes, but it has found a new business opportunity in the security market after its spin-off. The commercial B2B model will be shipped to security companies around the world.
‘Kitten Planet’ has launched an ultrasound toothbrush called ‘Brush Monster’ for kids to educate them on how to brush effectively using an augmented reality (AR) guide. Children can enjoy toothbrushing through fun features like collecting Monster images and sharing selfie photos.
‘lululab’ has developed the artificial intelligence (AI) skincare assistant, Lumini. The AI algorithm captures and analyzes face images to predict skin troubles intelligently and suggests best products to customers based on accumulated measurement data. The solution can be implemented in various device forms, e.g. portable device, KIOSK, and signage.
‘KIDSOFT’ has developed the ‘Carrie Watch’ that helps kids to develop good habits and improve their cognitive ability. Children can plan activities with their parents using the watch, and receive rewards for accomplishing the task correctly. In addition, parents can also measure their children’s ability to pay attention through the device. The company completed a joint research project with Seoul National University Hospital to develop a model of children’s behavior development using the watch.
‘Mangoslab’ has successfully launched its smart sticky notes printer called ‘nemonic’. Users can print free memos and useful built-in templates via their smartphone. The data can be stored and managed in a cloud server and up to 20 people can share the device at the same time using Bluetooth connectivity.
‘Innomdle Lab’ has developed an innovative watch strap ‘sgnl’ that generates vibrations when a voice signal is received through Bluetooth. The vibrations transmit through your hand to your fingertip. When you place your fingertip to your ear, the vibrations change back to voices. The device enables people to make and take phone calls without worrying about privacy issues in a silent environment. The company successfully raised over USD two million in crowdfunding and will ship products to backers soon.
‘analogue plus’ has developed a smart communication device ‘Ahead’ for helmet users. Both hands and ears can remain free while using the gadget attached on a helmet. Motorcycle and bike riders, skiers, and workers in dangerous environments can safely answer phone calls and enjoy music using ‘Ahead.’
In December 2017, Samsung launched Samsung Research by reorganizing its Software R&D center and Digital Media & Communications (DMC) R&D center into a new entity. Samsung Research will function as an integrated R&D organization for Samsung’s Consumer Electronics as well as IT and Mobile businesses. Chief among the priorities for the organization will be to drive forward maturation and advancements within artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and other areas to ensure Samsung continues to lead the industry conversation.
As a global entity, Samsung Research will operate 22 R&D centers around the world, with a total of 20,000 staff. In addition to leading future innovation, the mandate of the new organization will also be to help explore and create new business possibilities.
At a recent launch event, Hyun-suk Kim, President and Head of Samsung Research, detailed the vision of the new entity, emphasizing to staff the vital role they would each play in making sure Samsung Research reaches its goal to ‘shape the future with innovation and intelligence.’
“Starting now, Samsung Research will drive the most advanced technological leadership and innovation based on AI technologies to realize the future that everyone dreams of, with the most talented people in the world,” Hyun-suk Kim told employees at the event. “In order to achieve this vision, one of Samsung Research’s first missions will be to instill a development culture where everyone encourages one another in creativity, as well as autonomously participates in the development process.”
As the capabilities of AI grow, Samsung’s continuing work and driving aim will be to build a single robust, flexible and expandable platform to integrate and optimally utilize the technology. Within its R&D environment, and with Samsung Research playing a key contributing role, Samsung will connect its technologies together to enable interoperability and simplicity for users, all powered by the latest in cutting-edge AI technologies.
Samsung Electronics recently announced the launch of Relúmĭno, an application that works in conjunction with the Gear VR to help those living with low vision see the world more clearly.
The app provides users with a visual aid that’s more approachable and affordable than prohibitively expensive alternatives. In the video below, see how the team behind Relúmĭno was inspired to create the vision-enhancing app, and how its convenient functions make it easier for millions of people around the world to read a book, watch TV, and explore the world around them.
Recently, a team of researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) developed a “graphene* ball,” a unique battery material that enables a 45% increase in capacity, and five times faster charging speeds than standard lithium-ion batteries. The breakthrough provides promise for the next generation secondary battery market, particularly related to mobile devices and electric vehicles. In its research, SAIT collaborated closely with Samsung SDI as well as a team from Seoul National University’s School of Chemical and Biological Engineering.
Exploring Next Generation Battery Technology
Lithium-ion batteries were first commercialized in 1991, and widely applied to markets for mobile devices and electric vehicles. However, with standard lithium batteries requiring charging times of at least an hour to fully charge, even with quick charging technology, and considered to have reached their limit for capacity expansion, there have been numerous attempts to explore use of new innovative materials. Among the materials looked at, graphene has widely become the primary source of interest as the representative next generation material.
In theory, a battery based on the “graphene ball” material requires only 12 minutes to fully charge. Additionally, the battery can maintain a highly stable 60 degree Celsius temperature, with stable battery temperatures particularly key for electric vehicles.
In its research, SAIT sought for an approach to apply graphene, a material with high strength and conductivity to batteries, and discovered a mechanism to mass synthesize graphene into a 3D form like popcorn using affordable silica (SiO2). This “graphene ball” was utilized for both the anode protective layer and cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries. This ensured an increase of charging capacity, decrease of charging time as well as stable temperatures.
Dr. Son In-hyuk, who led the project on behalf of SAIT, said, “Our research enables mass synthesis of multifunctional composite material graphene at an affordable price. At the same time, we were able to considerably enhance the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in an environment where the markets for mobile devices and electric vehicles is growing rapidly. Our commitment is to continuously explore and develop secondary battery technology in light of these trends.”
*Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms from graphite, and is receiving much attention in the battery and display industry due to its physical, chemical stability. Graphene is 100 times more effective than copper in conducting electricity and displays remarkable electron mobility – 140 times faster than silicon – which makes it an ideal material for fast charge.