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Samsung mobile chief bets big on stylus, iris scanner

[THE INVESTOR] NEW YORK -- When Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note smartphone first hit the market in 2011, many critics, as well as rivals were doubtful on the success of the phone featuring a screen larger than 5 inches and a stylus.

Some, including the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in particular, were especially skeptical about the digital pen, which they said was too dumb to mimic the delicate moves of human fingers.


Samsung Electronics’ president and mobile business chief Koh Dong-jin. Samsung Electronics
Samsung Electronics’ president and mobile business chief Koh Dong-jin. Samsung Electronics


Despite mockery and criticism, the digital pen has achieved a great deal of improvement in writing and sketching capability over years and still remains as a signature feature of the Note lineup largely thanks to Koh Dong-jin, the chief of Samsung Electronics’ mobile communications business.

He believed from the onset that the digital pen, dubbed the S Pen, would become a feature that makes the Note stand out among dull smartphones with similar functions.

Talking with a group of reporters recently in New York on Aug. 2, Koh said the stylus for the Note 7, along with the iris scanner, are two of the head-turning features of the Galaxy Note 7. 


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“For the past seven years, Samsung has made endless efforts to improve the S Pen together with partners, and this time Samsung has made the latest pen both water and dust resistant,” said the Samsung mobile business chief, citing that the digital pen will become the biggest charm of the latest Note model for consumers.

Koh has devoted himself to the development of the Note stylus since the first launch back in 2011.

While Samsung was trying to come up with the S Pen, Koh flew over to Japan to strike an acquisition deal with Japanese stylus pen company Wacom in a bid to obtain core technology for the S Pen, according to people close to the matter.

He is also credited with orchestrating the development of research project for the iris scanner. The biometric scanner, newly added to the Note 7 along with the fingerprint scanner, is expected to take mobile security to a higher level.

Koh said it took more than 3 1/2 years to develop the nearly impeccable iris scanner.

The smartphone feature that identifies users by scanning their eyeballs was already all the rage among some Samsung employees who had a chance to test it before the Note 7 was unveiled in New York on Aug. 2, according to the top executive of Samsung.

“Around 190 managers who train salesmen across the globe about new Samsung devices raved about the newly adopted iris scanner during the recent training programs, held in Korea before the official launch,” the top Samsung executive said.

Partnering with financial firms and banks, Samsung will allow users to utilize the scanner for user identification in financial transactions.

As to the fingerprint scanner also features in the new Note, Koh said Samsung would have the fingerprint scanner installed in mid-range smartphones.

The Samsung executive also hinted that the tech giant would put more weight on the flagship models with a curved display, saying, “Samsung needs more third-party app developers for the Edge display.”

The Galaxy Note 7, unveiled in New York on Aug. 2, features an octa-core mobile processor based on the 14-nanomiter chip technology, 4GB RAM, 64 gigabytes of internal storage memory with a memory slot expandable up to 256GB, a 5.7-inch curved display, and a 3,500 milliampere-hour battery.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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