The Tech Guru series features eight stories from some of Samsung’s printing experts, presenting their points of view in their respective fields. The series will show how Samsung printing products and technology – and those who develop them – embody the three core Samsung values: Smart, Fast and Reliable.
One of Samsung Printing Solutions’ most successful creations is the Smart UX Center, the world’s first ever Android-based GUI. The winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Award from the Buyers Laboratory Inc. last year, Samsung’s Smart UX Center encapsulates the innovative spirit of Samsung Printing Solutions and its creative employees
For our third Tech Guru interview, we spoke to Kim Hyuck, lead of UI/UX Development Team in Samsung’s Software Development Lab 1, who shared stories of how he and his pioneering team created the Smart UX Center. Kim also spoke about his forecast for the future of the printing industry.
Kim was initially part of Samsung’s Laser Printer Development team, where he worked for five years after joining Samsung’s Printing Division back in 1998. After overseeing UX and UI development for a prototype project, he was officially appointed as an UX/UI engineer, eventually managing the expansion of Samsung’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) platforms. He has led the team’s operations, from the GUI’s first incarnation to its current Smart UX (4th generation model), working with teams from across the globe, including India, Korea and the United States.
Creating a Simpler, More User-Friendly GUI
GUI on printer panel essentially allows for the exchange of information between printing devices and their users.
Before Samsung GUI’s conception in 2006, user interaction with printers was limited to text LCD only. Although device upgrades and additional features are a mark of technological progress and innovation, they also create more steps for users to take in order to get their tasks done. This typically means more in the way of text-based interactions, and a further complication of the user work process.
Kim and his team wanted to provide customers with convenient, easy-to-use products. And with the GUI, they knew they could develop a solution that would let images – not text – do the talking.
From the 1st-generation GUI, released in 2006 to the Smart UX model unveiled in 2014, the platform has undergone many changes, but the underlying core value of the interface development has remained constant: the idea of creating a simpler, more convenient user experience for end-users. This vital value, says Kim, is the true key to Samsung GUI’s success.
Kim explained, “We always try to reflect customer feedback and requests when we are testing and making improvements to our printing devices.”
For GUI, it is not a matter of developing a single kind of platform with a specific array of options; different users have different needs. Some business consumers want a lot of handy options on their display screens, but this can make for a very information-heavy look. Others want an uncluttered look that has great visual appeal, but that creates a lot of steps for users to go through in order to do exactly what they want to get done. Samsung’s GUI provides a balance between the two – providing plenty in the way of information for users, while at the same time also reducing the number of steps needed to execute a job.
Pioneering the Industry’s First Android-powered GUI
Closely monitoring electronics trends and the changing mobile environment, Kim and his team recognized the growing importance of the Android platform. They recognized that the widespread and open platform would allow Samsung Printing to provide business users with more convenient solutions.
Although the number of Android users was already high, implementing the Android platform to a device’s GUI was considered a bold, daring move. In fact, no printer manufacturer had taken a decision of this sort before. After all, the printer market is considered as one of the most conservative in the electronic goods market, as its products tend to have a relatively long lifespan.
Regardless, Kim and his team decided to use the Android platform for the 4th incarnation of the GUI. Kim said,
“As every forerunner experiences when pioneering, we had new barriers to overcome. The new GUI’s development costs skyrocketed and there were no benchmarks to refer to when errors occurred. Regardless, I knew it was something that had to be done. We wanted to emphasize the UX, and decided that we would differentiate ourselves by using Android, since it was much more stable and reliable than the other alternatives.”
The Smart UX is a GUI that is implemented in Samsung printing devices to help users select printing options. Furthermore, it is a platform that allows users to customize their UX by downloading printing-related apps and widgets from the Samsung Printing App Center.
It took a collaborative effort from teams based in Korea, India and the United States some 2 years to develop the Smart UX Center – the world’s first Android-powered GUI for multifunction printers. And in August 2014, the finished product was successfully launched and applied to the MultiXpress 7 series.
“We” Are Smarter Than “Me”
“One of the key benefits of the Smart UX Center’s Android open platform is that it allows for cooperation between users, developers and dealers. Customers can engage by personally customizing their own UX according to their printing habits. IT professionals can use the Smart UX Software Development Kit to develop new apps and widgets to meet companies’ business needs.”
“The process of developing the UX interface resembled the way it is used now—it was a result of cooperation between departments,” Kim said. For GUI development, Korea’s development team collaborated with a team based in India for all of its models to date. Although long distance and time differences posed sizeable obstacles, the team thought of them as opportunities for cross-cultural cooperation.
Cooperation also took place between Korea-based teams as the design team is based in Seoul, while the software development team works in a satellite city, Suwon. Two teams worked closely to reduce the gaps between their ideas and opinions.
“Thanks to the commitment, time and energy all the teams put into building the 4th-generation GUI model, we were able to create a revolutionary UI – and an Android-based ecosystem,” Kim explained.
Future Smart UX that Will Communicate with Users
Kim and his team have been discussing the possibility of creating a new platform for the users of tomorrow.
“We included an audio system with an audible guide on the current GUI, which was intended for the visually impaired. I believe that the next-generation GUI will involve more in the way of audio technology—one that will perhaps listen to user’s commands and take actions. Next generation GUI will also make printers ‘smarter.’ in that it will be able to detect users’ printer behavior patterns and even make recommendations based on these.”
For Kim and his team, it all boils down to one thing at the end of the day: creating a user-friendly work and printing environment.
He said, “Our printing devices are ultimately intended for customers, so it’s only natural that when we develop products, we make sure to cater to their needs and become user-focused in our methods. Our goal remains unchanged from what it was 10 years ago – but now it is all about discovering new technology and adding new features that can help us keep achieving it.”
Related links: http://samsungprintingsolutions.com/2017/02/quality-electro-photography-functions-pave-way-smart-office-era/, http://samsungprintingsolutions.com/2017/03/samsung-printing-changing-print-game-smart-imaging-tech/
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