Just a few decades ago, much of today’s mobile technology would have been considered the stuff of science fiction. As Sci-Fi writer Arthur C Clarke once noted, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. However, we at Samsung know that the real magic often happens, when technology meets human creativity to give it an additional purpose – to do good. Samsung strongly believes in contributing to the benefit of everyone through technology and we strive to help create the fundamental solutions to the social issues we face.
With that mindset, we’re able to find that new technology can take us in sometimes unexpected directions. Take Virtual Reality (VR): most people associate the technology with immersive entertainment. But we also have found, VR can change people and communities for the better.
Just look at how VR technology offers amazing medical and healthcare applications. Earlier this year, Samsung unveiled Relúmĭno, a visual aid application that works in conjunction with Gear VR to enhance vision for the visually impaired by creating a new visual experience that magnifies images, highlights outlines and adjusts color contrast and brightness to help make images clearer for use while reading books or viewing objects. Built out of Samsung’s in-house incubator program C-Lab, Relúmĭno helps users who have a visual field defect through a more accessible and affordable technology. Additionally, in Sweden, we're working on a VR training project called Practigame to create an engaging learning experience for medical professionals to test their skills in a fun and engaging environment that to provide better care and look after emergency patients. Practigame simulates real life scenarios through gamified education to help them prepare for challenging situations they may encounter in their hospitals.
At SDC 2017, attendees can also experience a partnership from Samsung Electronics Switzerland, Limbic Life and the RehaClinic group to create Limbic Pro-Visio, a VR-based, easy-to-use motion system for neuro- and muscular prevention and rehabilitation by improving core stability, circulation, concentration and mood. By combining the Limbic Chair's relaxed seating experience with Samsung Gear VR, we are developing movement and task-oriented games for functional training to create more accurate and effective therapy and prevention programs. The chair supports the spine and allows for micromovements in the thighs that also serve as input controls for VR environments.
It's not just VR, of course. We constantly encounter both developers and young STEM students (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) who are inspired by technology to transform our world for the better, and we truly enjoy collaborating with them – whether they are leading businesses, startups or individuals around the world who want to make a difference.
However, it’s even more exciting when young people themselves develop technology with a purpose. Featured at this year’s Samsung Developer Conference, the Solve for Tomorrow competition saw students build solutions as diverse as an application that matches children from families in need with restaurants who donate extra meals; a drone for precision delivery of pesticides to make sure agriculture keeps drinking water safe by preventing chemicals from coming in contact with produce; and a sensor system that hopes to save lives by reducing the number of wildlife collisions with a warning system for drivers alerting them when animals are nearby.
While the functionality of technology can have a greater purpose to positively impact lives, it can also have an environmentally friendly impact. For example, a team of our employees had brilliant idea for a program to “Upcycle” old Samsung Galaxy devices that would otherwise end up forgotten in a drawer. With the support of our C-Lab initiative, the team developed a software platform can run open source software on top of old Galaxy devices, making it possible for owners of old Galaxy tablets and smartphones to transform their old devices and give them second life as an IOT hub, CCTV system, game console and many other ingenious solutions. The open source platform ensures that anyone can participate in the repurposing of devices to create new functionality beyond the original intent. With the upcycling program, we are breaking away from the model of make-use-discard to bring new life to our products.
As all these examples show, amazing things happens when technology gets a new purpose – and at Samsung we hope to add some magic sparkle.