Small enough to be held in one hand while boasting a sensational design, The Freestyle has gained attention in the portable projector market since its launch in 2022. Samsung released The Freestyle 2nd Gen, an upgraded portable projector that is making imagination a reality.
Samsung Newsroom sat down with Wonki Kim from Lifestyle Team, Seongwon Seo from Picture Quality Solution Lab and TJ Kim from Future Planning Group of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics to hear about the characteristics and development of The Freestyle 2nd Gen.
▲ Smart Edge Blending demonstration video
No Compromise for ‘Smart Edge Blending’
Smart Edge Blending is one of the biggest upgrades in The Freestyle 2nd Gen. The feature seamlessly merges projections from two The Freestyle devices to create a large screen for pictures and videos. By connecting the two devices to the SmartThings app and synchronizing the video output with a photo of the projected screens, users can enjoy a full-screen experience from anywhere.
“Edge-blending is a sophisticated technology that usually requires dedicated hardware and software to manually control each pixel,” said Seongwon Seo. “In line with the easy-to-use concept of The Freestyle, we engineered Smart Edge Blending to help first-time users easily blend screens wirelessly, without a dedicated device or help from an expert.”
▲ Smart Edge Blending can be used through the SmartThings app.
When Smart Edge Blending is activated, the connected smartphone will engage with The Freestyle portable projectors in real time. Content sync and adjustment processes take place automatically via communication between the devices. “Screen alignment can easily be done using the SmartThings guide when a user captures a picture of the projected screen. The analytic algorithm will analyze the span and overlap of the patterns at eight main points on the setup screen and then adjust the projection on each device,” he explained.
▲ The Freestyle 2nd Gen with Smart Edge Blending on display at IFA 2023
Smart Edge Blending was born out of user pattern analysis. “We found that consumers tend to use The Freestyle as a highly portable personal screen in whatever space they are in — whereas the living room TV would be for fixed, communal use. In fact, there were many cases where single households would purchase several projectors,” said TJ Kim. “When you have more than one device, why not combine them?”
By connecting The Freestyle devices, users can enlarge their screen by up to 160 inches and enjoy a 21:9 screen ratio with no further manual adjusting. Speaker capacity is doubled and intensified with the choice of dedicating the left and right stereo sound output to each device to create a more immersive audio experience.
▲ (From left) TJ Kim from Future Planning Group and Seongwon Seo from Picture Quality Solution Lab
“What’s charming about Smart Edge Blending is that it can be expanded not just horizontally but vertically as well,” said Seo. “This feature is even more useful with the rise of vertical content such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Most consumers are used to viewing ultra-large horizontal content at movie theaters but are not quite familiar with ultra-large vertical content. But it’s actually quite nice once you try it.”
Nonetheless, there were challenges during development. The original plan was to only support still images, since video requires extensive computing power and real-time alignment. In early stages, the setup also required a high-resolution picture of the projection as well.
▲ Seongwon Seo from Picture Quality Solution Lab explains how the complex Smart Edge Blending technology was built for anyone.
“It is an extremely difficult task to get two wireless devices to continuously be in sync. While The Freestyle development first started with still images, we couldn’t give up on videos because that’s what more consumers prefer watching with our device. Using a wire to hook up the devices was unthinkable given the highly mobile concept of The Freestyle. We supported the engineers until, one day, they managed to achieve the unthinkable,” said TJ Kim.
“Writing an algorithm that can analyze low-resolution images is a very demanding task — but we felt a sense of relief when we finally succeeded,” he added. “At first, it seemed impossible to minimize the margin of error between the two projections. The strict internal standard doesn’t even allow a single-pixel margin of error. Our breakthrough ultimately resulted from an assumption model that could accurately determine the state of projected setup patterns from low-resolution pictures.”
Staying True to Concept While Adding Fun
Through Samsung Gaming Hub, The Freestyle 2nd Gen supports gaming — a content form that was once unimaginable to enjoy on a portable projector. The addition of Samsung’s cloud gaming platform frees users from the limitations of consoles, wires and fixed screens such as smart TVs and monitors. “Gaming is one of the entertainment types that really highlights the portability of The Freestyle,” shared TJ Kim. “Users can now enjoy games through Samsung Gaming Hub anytime and anywhere, without a console.”
▲ Visitors at Samsung’s IFA 2023 booth test cloud games available on Samsung Gaming Hub with The Freestyle 2nd Gen.
Updates were made for added sustainability. “The light source life has been extended from 20,000 to 30,000 hours,” said Wonki Kim. “With 30,000 hours, The Freestyle can support a demanding eight hours of use per day for 10 years.” The Freestyle’s remote control was also upgraded to a SolarCell Remote that can be charged with sunlight or indoor lighting, eliminating the need for disposable batteries.
Processing speed was revamped too. Compared to the first model, The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s memory has been expanded to speed up signal processing and remote control response. By testing usage scenarios during development, the device’s UI and UX were improved immensely to make the projector accessible to anyone.
▲ Wonki Kim from Lifestyle Team underscores compactness, portability and usability as the reasons behind the popularity of The Freestyle among young people.
Screens Everywhere as a Strategy
With the vision of “Screens Everywhere, Screens for All,” The Freestyle 2nd Gen prioritizes portability and mobility to enable users to experience the benefits of a movable screen.
“Although it’s clearly a hassle to set up, the tripod has become such a natural part projectors — so much that no one thought twice about it,” said TJ Kim. “We envision a projector without a tripod or other accessories. That’s how The Freestyle 2nd Gen came to life.”
▲ The Freestyle 2nd Gen on display in a caravan at IFA 2023
The creators behind The Freestyle continue to dream. “As we work to achieve ‘Screens Everywhere, Screens for All,’ we’re constantly planning innovations around Samsung’s projector lineup — The Freestyle and The Premiere. Our goal is to move beyond simply targeting the existing market and present a new screen experience for everyone,” shared Wonki Kim.
“We plan to continue addressing the limitations of space and strengthen connections among various Samsung devices to generate meaningful synergy,” added TJ Kim.
Get The Freestyle 2nd Gen worth RM4,999 as the exclusive gift when you purchase selected Samsung TV. For more information, please visit: https://www.samsung.com/my/offer/tv-season-of-gifting-2023/freestyle/
To learn more about the product, please visit: https://www.samsung.com/my/projectors/the-freestyle/lff3c-the-freestyle-2nd-gen-sp-lff3claxxxm/