Key-free keyboard amongst Samsung C-Lab innovations headed to CES
Samsung will be showcasing some of the fruits of its C-Lab Inside idea incubation program when CES kicks off in Las Vegas next week. Amongst the ideas dreamt up by Samsung employees are a virtual keyboard for mobile devices, a data-digitizing highlighter and an electronic scalp analyzer designed to help users hang onto their hair.
Samsung established its C-Lab (creative lab) Inside program in 2012 and says 40 alumni projects have made the jump to fully-fledged start-ups in that time, including Welt, Linkflow, Linkface and Luple. The projects that will be on display at CES 2020 focus on "a convenient and healthy lifestyle," with SelfieType making a play for the convenience category.
We've seen numerous attempts at freeing mobile device users from the confines of on-screen virtual keyboards, from folding, rolling or one-handed physical keyboards to virtual ones projected onto a flat surface. The SelfieType is a virtual keyboard, but without the projection aspect. It relies on a device's front-facing selfie camera – hence its name – to capture the typist's finger movements and an AI engine to divine what they're typing.
The upside of this approach is that it doesn't require any additional hardware and could presumably work on just about any smartphone. Conversely, keyboards that don't provide any tactile feedback are notoriously difficult to use, and SelfieType doesn't even project a virtual keyboard onto a surface to let you know where to tap your fingers. We'll reserve our judgement on this one.
Hyler is a variation on the Homer Simpson school of thought for developing new products that involves taking an existing product and putting a clock in it or something. In this case, the existing product is a highlighter and the clock is a text digitizer. This allows highlighted analog text to be digitized and transferred to an app on a mobile device where a "search mode" will provide online search results or definitions of the highlighted text.
Homer Simpson could have also served as inspiration for the Becon, although it might be too little too late for our animated friend. The Becon is a hand-held "scalp home-care service" that analyzes various scalp conditions, including hair follicle density, sensitivity, temperature and humidity. A machine learning algorithm then provides recommendations on the best solution to prevent hair loss. Improvement, if any, can be monitored through an app.
For those stuck inside who want give their vitamin D levels a boost there's the SunnySide, an indoor light masquerading as a window that's designed to be installed on a wall like a picture frame and pump out artificial sunlight. Although Samsung says it copies the full spectrum of actual sunlight, there's no danger of getting sunburn while at your desk.
Rounding out the C-Lab Inside projects on show at CES is the Ultra V, a sensor that monitors ultraviolet rays throughout the day. It's designed to help users track their UV exposure, vitamin D production and skin condition through a companion smartphone app. The sensor itself is able to detect UV rays over a wide angle of incidence, allowing it to the integrated into a variety of wearable devices. It will be shown in the most obvious form factor – and one that we've seen numerous times before by other companies with similar devices – a wristband.
Whether any of the projects join the previous success stories and lead to their own start-up remains to be seen, so CES might be their only outing.