Samsung is opening a new Design Innovation Center in San Francisco, California, the South Korean tech giant announced Wednesday. The institute will be led by MIT Design Lab and MIT Mobile Experience Lab veteran Federico Casalegno who is understood to have left the Massachusetts-based university after being approached by the world's largest smartphone manufacturer. The move itself is technically a restructuring of an existing San Francisco unit of Samsung which started operating in 1994 as the firm's North American product design arm. While crafting devices and services will still be at the core of the SDIC's activities, the institute will now be shifting its overall focus from individual offerings to ecosystems with the goal of creating consistent multi-device user experiences, Samsung said.
The center will have its attention divided between creating and localizing solutions meant to cater to North American consumers and contributing to Samsung's long-term goal of conceptualizing and commercializing entirely new product categories. As such, the SDIC is becoming the seventh international unit of the chaebol's Seoul-based Corporate Design Center. Samsung Executive Vice President and design chief Lee Don-Tae recently said the firm is still targeting a "seamless" user experience when coming up with all of its products as it's striving to both differentiate itself from its rivals and improve the overall quality of its offerings. In the mobile segment, Samsung continues to stand as the largest defier of industry trends, having resisted the possibility of removing a headphone jack from its devices and insisting on curved display panels for its flagship Android smartphones in previous years. More recently, the company signaled it won't be adopting any kind of display notches with its handsets and is also said to be working on a solution for implementing an iPhone X-like 3D camera into the Galaxy S10 without resorting to such a cutout.
Regarding more general product philosophy, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh took to this year's MWC to state that the OEM is now prioritizing refined experiences instead of industry-first features, having suggested such an approach is the main reason for the Galaxy S9 lacking an in-display fingerprint reader and a depth-sensing mechanism. The company is still expected to become the world's first device vendor to deliver a truly foldable smartphone, with such a gadget being expected to debut by 2019.