updated 08:07 pm EDT, Sat March 16, 2013
Samsung focusing less on hardware, more on complete design experience
With devices like newly-announced Galaxy S 4, South Korean electronics conglomerate is shifting its design focus from solely hardware to include more of how users interact with their technology. This according to Dennis Miloseski, head of Samsung Design America, who spoke on Saturday at Engadget's Expand conference. That new focus, Miloseski said, will mean that future devices — while their form factors will continue to evolve — will see more of an emphasis on improving the "relationship" between users and their devices.
"Actually, the global design process has been raised," Miloseski said, speaking on the evolution of hardware in the larger industry. "We're making devices thinner, lighter, making screens more beautiful. With Samsung, it's less about that but more about building a meaningful relationship with technology and finding a way, as these devices become smarter, to let them sense where you are and adjust to that."
In unveiling the GS 4 in New York this week, Samsung made special note of the software advances the company had packed into its new flagship handset. The GS 4 saw only marginal design tweaks to accompany the requisite specifications improvements.
Instead, Samsung touted the device as a "life companion," that learns its users' behaviors and adjusts what it displays depending on location and time. The S 4 also uses its front-facing camera to tell when the user is looking at the screen, allowing for control of what is displayed in that manner as well. Miloseski pointed to these and other features as the future of how Samsung's design improvements.
""It's known that [hardware] design will improve over time," Miloseski said, "but now we're thinking about 'How do you create a soul for a device?'"
The Samsung design head appeared to parry possible complaints that Samsung had stayed with plastic as the main body material for the company's new handset, even as chief competitor Apple's — and now competing Android manufacturer HTC's — handsets are lauded for their precision aluminum construction.
"The design process doesn't start with a material," he said. "It doesn't start with us saying, 'Okay, we're going to make a device that uses metal. The design process starts with a story. For a device [like the GS 4], which is global and sells around the world, it's a matter of looking at many different tastes and preferences and putting what we can of those in the final product."
Looking forward, Miloseski says he sees technology moving into the background as the devices users carry become more intelligent.
"I think over time, though, it's all of our responsibilities not to put more layers of hardware and glass in front of users," he explained. "I think the evolution of mobile is moving closer to connecting people to people, with the technology moving out of the way. There's also room for mobile to change, to reconnect us with the world around us."