Inside Samsung Printing Solutions is a series of interviews with employees at Samsung, experts who take part in planning, creating, and marketing the printing products and solutions that Samsung is famous for.
This month, we interviewed Harris Han, head of Software Development Group, Vice President, Printing Solutions, Samsung Electronics. For twenty years, he has been in charge of printing solutions at Samsung. From the very planning stages of the Smart UX Center to the Smart UX Center 2.0 concept introduced at the 2015 National Dealer Meeting, Harris Han has the full story behind this revolutionary printer interface.
We asked him to tell us the story, and details on what solutions Samsung is focusing on for its partners.
Twenty years as Samsung’s software developer
Please introduce yourself and tell us how you started working at Samsung’s Printing Business.
I’m Harris Han, and I’m in charge of all of Samsung’s printing solutions. This year is my twentieth year here at Samsung. I first entered as a software engineer for the Printing Business and have stayed here ever since.
When I first got my job here at Samsung, there were only 20 engineers. We—software engineers at the time—were like the minority group at a hardware manufacturing company, but now, things have changed. The solutions we create today are much more advanced and are now a major contribution to the company’s business.
Just twenty years ago, Samsung’s name value as a printer brand was relatively low. In such a short time, the company has achieved much success. What are your thoughts on the progress?
Just looking at the line-up, it went from 10% completion with only A4 entry-level devices to 98% completion, including A3 devices. The company’s internal capacity has changed, and so has the industry’s opinion of us.
When I first started working here, I was a software engineer at a hardware-specialized company. At the time, there was no way we could catch up to brands that had been specializing in software for decades. But now, Samsung employees believe that we’re not only creating the same software that others are making but also leading the market with new technologies.
Developing the World’s First Android-based Touch Interface for Printers: The Smart UX Center
Can you tell us more about Samsung’s key printing solution, the Smart UX Center?
As you may already know, the Smart UX Center is the Android-based 10.1-inch touch interface attached to our multifunction printer. The Smart UX Center is composed of four elements: an Android UI, apps, an SDK (Software Developers Kit), and the Printing App Center. We call this the Smart UX Center ecosystem.
The Smart UX Center is supposedly an interesting case in product development, from the fact that multiple businesses collaborated, and that it was completed in just eight months.
We had actually made a similar UI before—a 3rd-generation printing user interface—but it wasn’t fully Android, for which we needed to receive certification from Google.
For this new generation, we developed the Smart UX Center to be the “Real Android” UI. It was certainly challenging. We worked together with many teams, including design, software, wireless business, R&D from global offices, and even third party vendors. Despite the challenge, the project was completed in merely eight months—incredibly fast for building an entirely new printing UI. This would not have been possible without Samsung’s IT infrastructure and technological prowess.
The Smart UX Center: Innovation with user experience at the core
What makes Samsung’s Smart UX Center special?
The Smart UX Center is customizable. I believe that the best user interface is the one that the user makes. With the Smart UX Center, you can not only customize the UI, but also use the same UI when using another Samsung MFP, making for a seamless and consistent experience, with the user at the center rather than the devices.
Also, any Android developer can make apps, and every user can personalize their Smart UX Center for their needs. In general, printing solutions are server-based and “heavy.” In contrast, Android apps are “lightweight” solutions and can be developed quickly. The flexibility of the Android language makes it infinitely possible to extend a multifunction printer’s functions.
Recently, we—Samsung Electronics as a whole—announced that we will be focusing on providing a smart user experience with all of our products and solutions, and we are already doing this with the Smart UX Center.
There are concerns about the Smart UX Center’s security. Can you tell us how Samsung is addressing this issue?
There are some concerns that because the Smart UX Center is Android-based, Android viruses may lead to printer hacking. To address this concern, we made the Android UI and the main XOA platform (where important data is saved) completely separate, both in terms of hardware and software. So even if Android viruses enter, they cannot hack data from the main platform.
Also, the general consensus in the IT industry is that preventing hacking is not possible. What’s important is how quickly you can react to viruses and possible hackings. In fact, Samsung, as the largest Android smartphone manufacturer, is working closely with Google to get the updated version of their security patches as promptly as possible.
What is the general opinion of the Smart UX Center?
First off, different countries and different regions have varying preferences when it comes to the applications. As a developer, I was happy to hear various stories about how the Smart UX Center was being used, from dealers installing pre-made applications for customers to using the SDK to create new apps. There’s much room for growth, and I feel that it’s time to take a more strategic approach.
A Future with the Smart UX Center 2.0
At the National Dealer Meeting, you talked about the concept of Smart UX Center 2.0. Can you explain the “Quantum Leap” and the “Silver Bullet” concepts behind this?
Long story short, “Quantum Leap” implies that Smart UX Center 2.0 is not a simple upgrade, but a whole different solution with a new user experience. Our concept of the “Silver Bullet” comes from an old paper written by Fred Brooks in the 1980s, saying that there is a limit to a solution’s productivity, reliability, and simplicity.
The Silver Bullet, as you may already know, is a metaphor for a breakthrough solution to a problem. With Smart UX Center 2.0, we wanted to show that the Silver Bullet—or “killer apps”—already exist. They exist on your smartphone and on your PC, and you use them almost every day.
Smart UX Center 2.0 enables users to connect their mobile phones to printers and use the killer apps and also use their phone to control the printer. This is the biggest difference. With the current Smart UX Center, there are restrictions to using a mobile (non-Smart UX Center) app. You would need to use the SDK to redevelop the app for the Smart UX Center. But with Smart UX Center 2.0, we’re providing a “playground” where mobile apps and printing apps can be seamlessly used from different devices. I believe this playground will bring about the quantum leap.
Check back next week for the second half of the interview, where we ask Vice President Harris Han about other printing solutions and Samsung’s future plans.