February 28, 2021

When the mobile is a stone wrapped in bamboo | Technology


When a mobile stone falls into their hands, some give praise to them, arched eyebrows, the solidity of the contraption while others think of how useful it would be if you wanted to throw someone in the head. On the table, a phone with a gray housing, stone-colored, hard, but light. It is the Research and Development center that Samsung He has in Seoul. Asked about the unexpected material, the engineer, with that kind of momentary stress characteristic of the solicitous and courteous Korean employee who does not want to disappoint the expectations of the Western journalist in front of him, clarifies that it is porcelain.

The center looks more like a university than an office. Young people in jeans, sneakers, T-shirt and ubiquitous round glasses roam the corridors

Porcelain, yes. And to his left, one of ceramic, along with many others, of the most varied materials and colors. Experimentation is one of the keys to innovation and these are immersed Samsung, Korean telephony giant, which last week opened the doors of the space where their crazy things, your advances. The visit, to which EL PAÍS was invited along with other European (and Spanish) media, was part of the effort that the Korean company is making to break with times of opaque news following the fiascos of the folding phone (Galaxy Fold, whose first units , tested by journalists, they offered screen problems, which forced him to postpone his departure) and the Galaxy Note 7, that cell that burned down and that the Korean brand had to withdraw from the market in 2016 (it lost 6,000 million dollars in the trance, according to its own CEO, DJ Koh, an executive with name of pop star confesses).

The center looks more like a university than an office. Young people in jeans, sneakers, T-shirts and ubiquitous round glasses roam the corridors. The labor mass seems like millennial. Located in the Woomyeon district, in an elegant and translucent building, it accommodates 3,800 workers.

Samsung is already betting on its packaging for a material called Pulp Mold, made with 80% bamboo

The Design Lounge is a light and futuristic space in which the Korean brand exposes some of its most recent lines of work. In the second room, surrounded by high tables that house mobile phones with all types of covers and colors, three wardrobes with futuristic clothes hanging on hangers allow to verify that Samsung has studied the profile of their future buyers and designs ranges of colors and formats according to three profiles type: urban un-construct (urbanite deconstructed), alien organic (extraterrestrial organic) and soft baroque (soft baroque). Three profiles illustrated by photos, associated clothing, accessories and psycho-sociological features. All of them, very cool. Each group is assigned a range of colors. And the range is aimed at the target audience: millennials and, above all, generation Z.

Experimentation with materials is not limited to devices. It also affects wrappers. To avoid the proliferation of plastics, Samsung is already betting on a material called Pulp Mold, made in 80% with bamboo. One of his employees explains it with pride.

Stone mobiles wrapped in bamboo. Hardness incardinated in flexibility. This surely would give for a Chinese proverb.

Room of the Design Lounge, space for the design, in the Center of Investigation and Development of Samsung in Seoul.


Room of the Design Lounge, space for the design, in the Center of Investigation and Development of Samsung in Seoul. Samsung

Yun-Je Kan, vice president of the company and head of design, predicts that in the not too distant future the business will not gravitate so much around the telephone. "The evolution of the devices has been guided by mobile phones in recent years," he says, "but the limit has already been reached. Now we are very interested in the design of headphones and watches. Little by little, new opportunities will open up. " Yun-Je, who maintains that designers always have to go five years ahead, relates that the sources of inspiration are sometimes unsuspected, and one can find them when contemplating, for example, the graceful movements of a dancer.

The Korean company is investing efforts in innovation, an aspect in which all brands face an all-out battle that, on occasion, as happened with the Note 7, encourages someone to rush in their eagerness to overtake the competitor. His R & D center in Seoul, one of the seven that has spread around the world, adds a curious space dedicated to experimentation. It's the C Lab, with C creativity, located in Suwon's headquarters, an hour's drive from bustling and polluted Seoul. In this place, now called Samsung Digital City, the first industrial warehouses of Samsung Electronics were established, back in 1969.

"We have a new era in front of us," declares solemn DJ Koh. "With the 4G, the true Internet of Things could not be implemented, but the time has come to use technology in real life"

The C Lab is the classic space of design thinking (design method that part of exploring the needs) very much to the Silicon Valley, in which the engineers form teams and develop new ideas. Of the 30,000 employees in the Samsung Digital City, 1,005 have participated in any of the 247 projects that have been carried out during its 6 years and 6 months of existence. This has led to initiatives such as Welt, the belt that keeps track of your data and helps you control your weight, or Nemonic, a small square printer with which you print in black and white format. post it, photos, reminders, texts.

Dong Jing (DJ) Koh, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, responsible for the mobile communications part, aims to place his company at the forefront of innovation. It is committed to building an open ecosystem and encourages collaboration with other platforms such as Google, Microsoft, Spotify, or Netflix. Sitting in front of a fortnight of foreign journalists, in a solemn room of the luxurious hotel Schilla, in the center of Seoul, he reels, with a deep and deep voice, his vision of the future. Considers that the deployment of 5G networks will be a key factor in the coming years. It will allow downloads of information 20 times faster and a capacity of information processing 10 times greater. That will change everything. "We have a new era in front of us," he declares, solemnly. "With 4G you could not implement the true Internet of Things, but the time has come to use technology in real life." That is, the 5G, crossed with Artificial Intelligence, seems like the key to the advent of the long-vaunted digital interconnection between everyday objects such as the car, the refrigerator, the refrigerator or the door.

The dashboard is full of screens. There are 8 deployed in total and 9 cameras, two inside and seven outside. One of the interior focuses on the driver's eyes

The autonomous car remains one of the battering rams of the development of that Internet of Things in which the machines speak between them and information is exchanged. At the end of the visit to the Research and Development Center of Woomyeon, the squad of foreign journalists displaced to Korea meet with a vehicle, developed together with the firm Harman, which incorporates some elements of the car of the future (or present). The heat tightens and, inside the car, even more. The dashboard is full of screens. There are 8 deployed in total and 9 cameras, two inside and seven outside. One of the interior focuses on the driver's eyes. It alerts you if you detect that you are falling asleep or if you are distracted by this little screen.

The engineer places the mobile in a space ad hoc under the central screen and explains that the largest one, the one on the right, is for the co-pilot, so that he can check his emails and social networks on it. You can connect with the fridge and show us an image that shows if there are beers. Under the mirrors, two more screens amplify the image conventionally offered by the rear-view mirrors, offering a larger viewing angle. This is what already offers us a present in which the vehicles must be designed so that they do not become spaces for distraction. In the not too distant future, the information will be displayed superimposed on the crystals, with the so-called Augmented Reality. We will pass the screen with the hand, as with the finger in Tinder. We hope that the vehicle is autonomous because, if not, we will have opened a new front in the era of massive distraction.

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