The internet of things, artificial intelligence, and 5G.
These will drive another era of innovation and disruption across businesses and professions. At their 10th Southeast Asia and Oceania Forum, Samsung singled these out as they presented their slate of gadgets and appliances. “From network to chip sets, devices to automative,” says Samsung Electronics Singapore president Eugene Goh, “we will pioneer a new generation of immersive, personal, and intelligent experiences.”
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It seems that ever-increasing connectivity continues to be the goal for the South Korean multinational, a vision that goes with world trends. These days, it’s not enough to have a singular innovation; tech companies think in terms of eco-systems, how each gadget fit as puzzle pieces in everyday life.
Goh points out that Samsung Electronics, on its 50th anniversary this year, has a long history of what it calls “meaningful innovation.” “We haven’t just made great products. We’ve created entire new categories to enable consumers to do what they couldn’t do before,” he says, expressing himself confidently in a room full of journalists. “All innovations are linked to a bold vision of connected living.” Through their intelligent and connected devices, they hope to extend connected living outside of the homes of their consumers to the cities that they live in.
More of 8K
One such device that they hope continues to make an impact—and which caught our attention the most—is their 8K television. Launched last year in the US, 8K, with its 7680 x 4320 resolution, is the clearest TV picture quality available today. It is 16 times better than HD, and four times as many pixels as 4K, the format that the world is still adjusting to.
At the forum, Samsung unveiled its largest QLED 8K screen yet, the 98”. This is on top of their previous offerings, 65”, 75”, 82” and 85”. Of course, when it comes 8k, the bigger they are, the better as resolutions that are this high would be wasted in smaller screens. The rest of the world seems to agree: according to global business information provided IHS Markit, 2.1 million units of 75” or bigger TVs were sold last year. That number is expected to increase by 43% or 3 million this year, and to 5.8 million by 2022.
Those numbers represent rapid adaptation and growth. In 2014, UHD 4K TV accounted for only 6 percent of our total TV sales. But today, that number has jumped to more than 73 percent in TV sales,” says Simon Sim, Samsung’s regional head of TV. “In fact, three out of four UHD 4K TV sold belong to the large screen category. With the growth of ultra large screen category, indeed the time has come for us to champion the next era of screen resolution, bring a new dimension of reality, which we are calling the 8k revolution.”
Some tech journalists, however, hesitate when it comes to 8K as content providers—streaming services, cable, etc—are just now adopting to 4K. (Another related concern is the speed of your internet provider as 8K is quite hefty to stream.) Currently, it is quite pricey to shoot at that resolution level, requiring an expensive RED camera. But Samsung addresses this through their proprietary Quantum Processor. This is an AI-powered picture processing semiconductor that learn and compare millions of images that help it to calibrate lower-resolution sources and optimize them to suit this new format. This means, regardless of the format of the content you are watching, the TV will transform it to near 8K resolution.
With intelligent AI, Sim shares that their new TVs can create texture, reduce noise, and restore picture edges. “So whether it’s going to be the next UEFA champion’s league final happening this June, or the 2019 Rugby World Cup in September, or the final season of Game of Thrones, you will be seeing all of your favorite content in 8k resolution on our QLED TV,” he says.
With more than 20 models, Samsung’s expanded QLED lineup still includes 4K via Q90R, Q85R, Q80R, Q70R and Q60R that range from 43” to 82”. Features that were emphasized include: upgraded ultra-viewing technology, which allows backlight to pass through the TV’s panels more evenly onto the screen; direct full array tech, which leads to precise brightness control; HDR10+, which optimizes the contrast for each scene so that viewers can appreciate a more detail-rich picture; and ambient mode, which allows the TV to display decorative content, useful information, personal photos, or mimic the wall behind it.
At the exhibition floor and at the product workshop after, we did see significant upgrades in picture quality from 4K to 8K. There are more details on landscapes and the colors seem to be closer to reality. There are more to be seen in dark scenes as well. And when paired with their Harman/Kardon co-branded soundbars, with its enveloping audio, the effect is particularly immersive.
The speakers at the event also painted a picture of just how their tech eco-system can work in a home: their washing machine that notifies you through your phone when its cycle is done; their Family Board, which does everything from calling your kids and googling recipes to checking weather forecasts and seeing who’s at the door; their voice-activated assistant Bixby, which allows all of these things to happen just with a quick audio command.
Family Board is particularly remarkable. This year’s updates turns it into creative canvass with ways to personalize messages, leave notes and photos, and share music and art. “Family Board is personal and totally unique to each user and member of the family,” says regional head of digital appliances Darren Tay.
He says that all these are made possible via enhanced interactions with other devices in the home. “For example, if you’re preparing a meal and your hands are full, you can ask Bixby to call a taxi, see who’s at the door, or get recipe ideas,” he explains. Those who already have the device will be able to get all these new features via automatic updates.
Unfortunately, some of these connected home appliances, including Family Board, are still not available locally for Philippine consumers. We hope that by the time the next Samsung Forum opens, they would be readily available in the country. After all, the idea of a connected world should include, well, everyone.
For more information, check out Samsung.com.