[Interview] How Photographer Cody Cobb Brings Users to Remote Corners of the World Through The FrameBy STF News
Samsung Electronics’ award-winning lifestyle TV The Frame continuously transforms the space it’s in by offering users access to over 1,500 pieces of virtual art from some of the world’s most renowned artists, museums and industry tastemakers.
This month, the Art Store is highlighting those masterpieces that bring the most beautiful scenery found around the planet straight to your living room with its World Environment Day spotlight, a curated set of art pieces that feature breathtaking scenes from all over the world. One artist whose work is featured in this spotlight is Cody Cobb, a photographer who travels to some of the most remote places known to man to capture nature the way he believes it should remain: untouched.
Figure 1. In my “studio” which is in the landscape itself
Bringing the Beauty of Our Planet to More People
Cobb has worked in photography for the past 20 years, first as an artistic pursuit that began as a part of his digital illustration projects and subsequently developing to be his primary medium. He travels to remote places including the vast American West in order to find unique landscapes, natural formations and stand-out moments to capture. He spends much of his time working alone in order to allow for serendipity to lead him to the discovery of the exceptional scenes captured in his work.
▲ Death Valley (2015)
“I am not sure that I can turn off the part of my brain that is engaged when I am photographing,” noted Cobb of the ways he harnesses his camera to capture his unique view of the world. “I observe the world in a specific way, obsessively finding details and patterns. Sometimes I will happen to have a camera with me, and that’s when I am able to capture those observations. Photography is a natural extension of my way of experiencing the world.”
By bringing his works to the selection available to users on The Frame, Cobb hopes that people will be able to experience the world in the way that he is able to when he is taking photographs. “I would love for those who view my work to be transported somewhere else for a moment,” he noted. “I hope that they can experience the sense of stillness that I myself enjoy while shooting.”
Cobb also hopes that when a user takes in the incredible scenes he has been lucky enough to see firsthand, they are able to stop for a moment and appreciate the beauty of what they are seeing. “I hope that my artwork offers a nuanced way of experiencing nature,” he said. “I want these places to come across as mysterious and I hope that people are able to get lost in them.”
Experiencing the World Through The Frame
On The Frame, Cobb’s photos are displayed using nano-sized Quantum Dots which offer 100% color volume and bring over a billion shades of precise colors to users so that users can enjoy the artworks with the original color, detailing and texture intended by the artist. Users are able to experience the natural beauty of our planet just as it is, for what feels like a firsthand view of these amazing scenes.
▲ Parallel World (2017)
“The Frame is such a perfect expression of the cinematic visuals running through my head when I’m creating art,” noted Cobb. “I want my photos to feel alive and the technology powering The Frame allows for that. I also love that my fine art prints can exist on the same wall alongside the work I have available on the Art Store.”
Putting Nature First Thanks to Transformative Technologies
Having collaborated with The Frame’s Art Store since its early days, Cobb understands how important it is to bring art into peoples’ homes and how technology plays a pivotal role in doing so. He is grateful for transformative experiences The Frame offers as a digital platform for displaying art; “Thanks to The Frame, I now have a new audience and a whole new way of sharing my work,” he noted. “It is incredibly motivating.”
An ardent advocate for the environment and the protection of the spaces he captures, Cobb is now selling his work via NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on platforms such as Hic et Nunc as the form of digital currency they employ consumes much less energy than other platforms. For each NFT sale he makes, he is donating a portion of the proceeds to environmental preservation organizations.
Fifteen of Cody’s pieces are available on The Frame’s Art Store now, and two of his photographs are being featured as part of this June’s Environmental Day spotlight.
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[Interview] How Samsung Is Bringing a World of Hyper-Personalization to Users With Their Innovative TV ProductsBy STF News
▲ (From left) Taejin Hong and Woomin Lee of Samsung Electronics’ Visual Display TV Product Planning CX Team
Every day, Samsung Electronics’ engineers and product planners work together to the end of creating products that are as fresh as they are innovative and groundbreaking. Their mission is no simple one: to introduce new ideas and advancements in technology while raising the bar, year after year.
Since the first introduction of the flagship QLED TV in 2017, Samsung’s product planners have been responsible for the introduction of countless innovations, ideas and partnerships with the goal of bringing users the tailored, true-to-life viewing experiences they expect.
As Samsung celebrates its 15th year as the number one global TV leader, no product better demonstrates cutting-edge product innovation of the company’s teams quite like the 2021 Neo QLED. In order to learn more about the development of the 2021 Neo QLED lineup, Samsung Global Newsroom sat down with two members of Samsung Visual Display’s TV Product Planning CX team, Taejin Hong and Woomin Lee.
Innovation That Understands the User
“Consumers expect new and exciting products every year, but there is a lot of competition out there,” noted Hong. “Many brands have TVs that are of the same size as Samsung’s, and also claim to have many of the same features and resolution, so central to our product development is breaking through the competition by really focusing on providing the most optimized user experiences for our Neo QLED lineup,” he added.
Central, then, to the teams’ QLED strategy direction is the user. “Recently, we have seen a dramatic shift in what consumers are looking and asking for,” highlighted Hong. “Users are moving away from specs and feeds to upgrades that are centered around personalized viewing experiences, design, and true-to-life picture quality.”
In order to realize this, both Hong and Lee stressed that timely feedback from real users as well as the market at large is critical. “It is so important for us to receive timely input and feedback from our customers, retailers, and behavioral experts in order for us to fully understand the most up-to-date TV trends,” noted Lee. “For our 2021 lineup, we focused on developing a new viewing experience that reflects the challenging and unprecedented times of late, one that is centered around hyper-personalized screens.”
Incorporating the New Normal Into TV Development
Not only has the recent global situation completely transformed the way users are interacting with their TVs, but it has also had an effect on the way TV product planning is carried out. “Traditionally, large trade shows such as CES and IFA serve as perfect opportunities for us to gather industry feedback, while in-person sales provide on-site consumer feedback,” explained Hong. “Since both of these opportunities have been off the table since early last year, we had to create a new internal meeting system that is both timely and agile enough to provide us with feedback from various regional offices regarding their local situations. This system incorporates touchpoints with vendors, partners, retailers, and customers, and allows us to easily communicate with all those on-site and helps us respond effectively to the changing landscape.”
Since its launch in 2017, the QLED lineup has taken the premium TV market by the storm. Last year, QLED sales reached 7.79 million units, accounting for 35.5% of total Samsung TV sales. The company’s 2021 Neo QLED lineup, recently launched across various regions throughout March and April, has also provided valuable insight for the planning teams. “In Korea alone, our Neo QLED TV sales have reached 20,000 units in under two months since product launch,” said Lee. “This speaks volumes to the importance of market research and timely consumer feedback.”
This new way of working, of course, comes with as many challenges as it does opportunities. “The number of meetings and calls we have held with regional product managers, retailers, and engineers around the world has more than doubled in the past year,” highlighted Hong. “Further to this, we have been actively carrying out surveys and research into our consumers and their ever-changing TV usage habits.” But this hard work has paid off, as noted by Hong: “The pandemic has been a challenge for all, but it has also provided us with a valuable opportunity to look back at what truly matters for both us and our users.”
Harnessing Teamwork to Adapt to the Latest Trends
There is no denying that mainstream consumer TVs are becoming larger in size and that the standards for picture quality are becoming higher than ever before. However, the recent shifts in TV and behavioral trends have seen Samsung’s product planners lean towards developing hyper-personalized screens able to fit into individual consumer lifestyles.
“The past few years have been a period of introspection for a lot of people and self-improvement has become the force driving many purchases around the world,” said Lee. “According to a Salesforce report, 5 out of 10 consumers responded that they would consider swapping out a product for a different brand if it doesn’t deliver a truly personalized experience.”
But this change in behavioral trends has not resulted in a complete transformation of the team’s strategy planning. “Picture quality and design have been our top priorities since the launch of our first TV, and changing consumer usage patterns, along with the increased need to provide a one-of-a-kind experience, are what ultimately led to the creation of this year’s Neo QLED lineup,” explained Lee.
Samsung’s Neo QLED 43-inch model was also created through this multifaceted way of thinking. “Initially, we had not considered developing any sizes below 55 inches for the QLED lineup given the industry trend that saw consumers embracing larger screen models,” noted Hong. “However, following a study we undertook, we learned that there is also a growing demand for ‘second’ screens and more personalized screens used within office settings as well as family and gaming settings.”
According to the study undertaken by Samsung, the advent of the ‘new normal’ that has seen consumers spending more and more time at home has seemed to accelerate different consumer TV use cases and there has been an uptick in interest in smaller screens. “We have seen an increased demand for smaller and medium-sized screens,” said Lee. “But when it comes to developing these smaller TVs, it is not just a question of simply shrinking the size. Every piece of engineering must be adjusted for a differently-shaped model, and everything from the supply chain to the production line must be customized for each product.” In the end, teamwork brought it all together: “We quickly got together with the engineering team and started developing the smaller flagship models for release this year – teamwork at its finest!”
Developing Neo QLED to Be the Ultimate Entertainment Hub
“Another exciting trend we have noticed since the beginning of 2020 is that a lot of people are playing more games, be it on their mobile, computer or on their TV,” noted Hong. According to a recent report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), there are approximately 214 million gamers in the U.S. alone, with 75% of households having at least one member actively playing games on a regular basis.
“Gaming has become a fun group activity during the pandemic, particularly for those looking to connect with others,” highlighted Hong. “Naturally, we incorporated this trend into our latest products to provide a one-of-a-kind gaming experience. Such dedicated features on the 2021 Neo QLED include Super Ultra-wide Game View and the all-new Game Bar gaming interface – all while maintaining one of the lowest input lags in each TV category.”
Hong, in particular, is a fan of these game-centric additions to the QLED lineup. “Personally, I enjoy the Super Ultra-wide Game View feature, which enables gamers to experience ultra-wide gaming. It is a feature completely new to TVs with its 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratios, and this expanded field of view is great for finding hidden items or discovering enemies lurking in the corner while gaming.”
Maintaining the Samsung Legacy of Superior Picture Quality and Design
Both Hong and Lee agree that the latest Neo QLED lineup would be nothing without the past 15 years of display innovation. “At the end of the day, the QLED’s new features and product differentiation strategy wouldn’t lead to much without our solid foundation in picture quality and design,” highlighted Hong.
Lee, who has led QLED usage studies in global markets, agreed that this was a universal trend that continues to guide consumer choice. “The Neo QLED lineup is a product that reflects a meticulous study of user behaviors and priorities,” he noted. “We realize that there are many factors to consider when looking to purchase a new TV, but at the end of the day, it is the superb image quality and sleek design offered by Samsung TVs that provide the most satisfaction to our customers.”
The Neo QLED line represents the very latest iteration of this foundational excellence. “In particular, our Neo QLED TVs are equipped with Quantum Matrix Technology and Neo Quantum Processors, which enhance the picture quality through cutting-edge upscaling technology that harness Quantum Mini LEDs that are 1/40 the size of conventional LEDs,” explained Lee. “These technologies are a culmination of the industry’s peak technological advancements all working together to bring unrivaled picture quality to users in any viewing environment.”
The innovative Quantum Mini LEDs featured in the 2021 Neo QLED lineup in fact played a very important role in design upgrades. “It is only fitting that, with such stunning picture quality and immersive audio experiences, we would also look to enhance the TV’s design,” explained Hong. “Due to the size of the Quantum Mini LEDs, we were able to modify the TV’s form factor to possess a slim and minimalistic design. It is a modern accent piece suited for any interior, all thanks to Samsung’s engineering mastery.”
Looking to 2022 – and Beyond
“I think the fact that we have been able to win over consumers for the past 15 years is a testament to Samsung’s dedication and commitment to developing products that are in line with consumers’ needs,” noted Lee. “In particular, ever since the introduction of our QLED lineup in 2017, we have seen a rapid increase in market share in the premium TV segment, which we are very proud of.”
Based on the success of Neo QLED, Samsung’s TV product planning team is in the midst of developing yet another impressive and groundbreaking product lineup for 2022. “There is truly never a dull moment during the development cycle,” noted Lee. “We are already very excited for our 2022 lineup, and we hope that it will see us extend our No. 1 title in the global TV market through 2022 for a 16-year streak.”
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By STF News
Over the years, Samsung has delivered a broad range of high-fidelity audio solutions for a variety of experiences and living space set-ups. In a time when consumers have access to an endless range of content, Samsung’s devices, televisions and viewing solutions are playing a role in more and more facets of people’s lives.
Earlier this year, Samsung Electronics introduced the world’s first 11.1.4 channel soundbar, which helps bring consumers right into the midst of the action with rich, room-filling sound. And it has been Samsung’s relentless audio innovation over the years that has helped bring about the high-end technology and consumer experiences we enjoy today. This innovation is underpinned by a focus on research and development and emerging content formats, as well as a willingness to adapt to consumer feedback and behavior.
In 2016, Samsung released its HW-K950 soundbar, which transformed static sound into three-dimensional formats to allow users to enjoy sound that moves up and down and from left to right. Since then, Samsung has invested in expanding these features, which have now been enhanced to deliver technology that measures room acoustics and delivers richer auditory experiences and sleeker designs. Below, Samsung Newsroom takes a closer look at the captivating experiences delivered by the new soundbar’s upgrades and technological features.
The Inaugural 11.1.4-Channel Soundbar
The newly-released HW-Q950A soundbar delivers a more advanced 11.1.4–channel setup to provide a more vivid surround sound effect in action–packed scenes like those involving car chases and airplanes in flight. By using only four speakers (a main soundbar speaker, a subwoofer, and two rear speakers), Samsung’s 2021 HW-Q950A soundbar produces a standard of high-quality sound that other premium AV receivers would need double the power and number of inputs to match.
Just a few years ago, only high-end, multi-component home theater setups allowed for immersive sound experiences that produced 3D surround sound. But now, with the release of Samsung’s HW-Q950A soundbar and its 11.1.4–channel sound, users can enjoy realistic audio with only their soundbar.
But what exactly do these channel numbers mean? A two-channel system consists of a stereo with two speakers on the left and right, while a three-channel system adds an additional speaker to this two-channel setup for crisper audio output. 3.1–channel setups feature an additional subwoofer (the .1 channel) for low frequency sounds, while 5.1-channel systems add rear speakers to deliver enhanced sound that extends behind viewers. The 5.1.4–channel setup seen in soundbars includes two additional height channel speakers that produce three-dimensional surround sound to deliver the sound of objects moving off-screen.
In 2016, Samsung launched the HW-K950 soundbar, which was the first to deliver a 5.1.4–channel setup and three-dimensional surround sound. Then, the HW-N950 model released in 2018 delivered 7.1.4–channel sound by adding a surround channel to the side of the soundbar. Today, the HW-Q950T model delivers a 9.1.4–channel system by adding a wide surround channel that delivers sound from the front and sides of the viewer for a 360-degree audio experience.
Improving Sound Through Calibration
In typical home viewing setups, depending on the size of the room, sounds often reflect off walls, ceilings and floors, which can cause the audio to sound different than intended. In order to reduce such disparities, Samsung has developed the SpaceFit Sound feature, which harmonizes audio levels and contributes to sounds being delivered as they were originally developed in production.
Recognizing the size and reverberation characteristics of the room, select Samsung soundbars utilize the built-in microphone and DSP in QLED TVs to deliver optimal sound. This collaboration feature is available in soundbar models HW-Q700A and above and QLED TV models Q70A and above from this year.
What’s more, the Samsung soundbar models above the HW-Q900A also include the Auto EQ feature, which analyzes surrounding spaces with a built-in microphone mounted on the subwoofer instead of using the TV microphone. This offers optimized sound by calibrating excessively amplified low frequencies and sounds that are offset by other audio. This feature doesn’t require use of an active TV microphone, is available across all TV models and is an ideal fit for both older and newer televisions.
S Series Soundbars Add Central Speaker for Room-filling Sound
The new S Series Soundbar includes a central speaker and now boasts five channels compared to the four-channel systems in existing models.
This series, which is popular with consumers for its minimalist design and smooth finishes, is the perfect addition to any living room. When groups of viewers watch TV without a central speaker, those sitting near the edges of the room can often only hear the sounds closest to them. Now, with the addition of the central speaker, consumers can enjoy room-filling, immersive audio that replicates a cinema-style environment.
Going forward, Samsung Electronics is also planning to incorporate its Q-Symphony technology in an increasing number of its products. This technology provides realistic 3D sound to allow consumers to enjoy even more immersive audio across a broad range of content.
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By STF News
In order to provide more users around the world with easy access to diverse, high-quality TV content, Samsung Electronics is expanding its Samsung TV Plus service to 10 additional countries globally – bringing the total of countries the free Smart TV video service is available in up to 23.
Following the recent rollout of Samsung TV Plus to Australia, Brazil and Mexico, the service will be available in India and 9 new European countries – the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and Portugal – starting from March 30th with India. Users around the world will also be able to enjoy enhanced mobile app experiences, as well as exclusive arts contents.
Samsung TV Plus launched in India on March 30th
Samsung TV Plus: A Truly Global Streaming Service
Delivering instant access to news, sports, entertainment and more, Samsung TV Plus has become one of the fastest-growing streaming services in the world following its debut in 2015. By May, users in these 10 new countries will be able to gain access to Samsung TV Plus’s free Live TV content across the Smart TV platform, bringing the service’s offering up to 23 countries and comprising of over 1,000 channels worldwide.
For users in India, Samsung TV Plus will be available on any Samsung Smart TV model launched from 2017 to 2021. On March 30, the regional Samsung TV Plus service will launch with 27 channels, including 22 global channels and 5 Indian local channels including Republic, 9xm, and The Q.
Expanding the Samsung TV Plus Experience
In addition to the 10 new regions added to the Samsung TV Plus service, viewers can look forward to a more refined TV Plus app experience, new Smart TV features and never-seen-before art and lifestyle content.
The Samsung TV Plus mobile app1, launched in the U.S. in September 2020, will see an expansion of its service to Canada, the U.K., Germany and India this April. App users in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Austria will also be able to enjoy mobile Samsung TV Plus experiences within the first half of 2021.
Samsung TV Plus mobile app
Samsung TV Plus is also bringing new content to arts enthusiasts the world over. Launched last week in the U.S., Samsung TV Plus is adding a variety of new channels to its global linear TV lineup, including ‘Loupe 4K’, the art platform’s first-ever 4K streaming art channel.
Loupe 4K, 24/7 art and synchronized music linear channel launched in US
“The growth of Samsung TV Plus has everything to do with the quality of the content, the ease of access and the multi-screen experiences offered,” said Sang Kim, SVP of Product & Marketing for Samsung Electronics. “We are working hard to deliver more to our customers wherever they are – including our mobile offering.”
Samsung TV Plus is regularly being updated in order to provide the best possible user experiences. Users can now take advantage of improvements made to the app’s Player UI, including a simpler player bar for more intuitive control. As Samsung TV Plus’s video-on-demand (VOD) offering continues to expand, users can expect to enjoy even more VOD content seamlessly and free-of-charge with the Samsung TV Plus Smart TV and mobile apps.
New player bar updated this week
1 The Samsung TV Plus app is available free of charge on the Galaxy Store and Google Play in applicable regions for select Galaxy device users running Android O OS or higher.
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Apple sold more phones than Samsung in the fourth quarter of 2020, says market research firm Gartner. This is the first time that Apple has sold more phones than Samsung in a single quarter since 2016, which is when the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus came out. Apple and Xiaomi were the only two of the top five smartphone vendors that saw growth in 2020, while Samsung, Huawei, and Oppo all saw their sales decline. The overwhelming popularity of the iPhone has never been in question, especially in the United States, but that hasn’t been enough for Apple to overcome Samsung’s international dominance in recent years. In fact, Apple has not topped Samsung in sales since 2016, but that streak finally came to an end last quarter.
According to market intelligence firm Gartner (via 9to5Mac), the launch of the iPhone 12 last fall was the driving force behind Apple’s fourth quarter, during which iPhone sales saw year-over-year growth of 14.9%. Meanwhile, Samsung’s phone sales suffered an 11.8% drop over the same period, giving Apple the edge.
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“The launch of the 5G iPhone 12 series helped Apple record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020,” wrote Gartner. “Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot. The last time Apple was the top smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter for 2016.” This was not enough for Apple to win 2020, as Samsung was still the top smartphone seller in the world, despite sales dropping 14.6% year-over-year.
“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” wrote Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.”
Unsurprisingly, smartphone sales were down for the year, with the novel coronavirus pandemic and supply issues to blame. Gartner also notes that Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors in the top five to see growth in 2020, showing just how popular the iPhone 12 series has been since last fall.
With the latest Galaxy line having launched in January and the Galaxy S21 starting at a more reasonable $800, it’s possible that Samsung will reclaim the throne this quarter, but the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro didn’t start shipping until October 23rd, so it should be a tight contest over the next several weeks. There’s also a chance Apple releases an iPhone SE Plus next month, which would keep the sales train rolling into the spring. Either way, beating Samsung for even a single quarter, given the sheer amount of smartphone models that Samsung rolls out every year and the difference in popularity across several major international markets, is impressive.
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