Samsung's C-Lab has nurtured a few dozen creative ideas into fully fledged startups over the last couple of years, and a trio of new companies have just joined the incubator's alumni. Their products include a mini smart greenhouse, a portable directional speaker and an artificial intelligence-based user research platform.
Plantbox, which was created by new company Agwart, is probably the most interesting of the three. It's a greenhouse about the size of a small refrigerator which houses seed capsules. Plantbox can identify the type of seed based on the capsule and tweaks the temperature, humidity, lighting, air quality and nutrients to foster the plant's health and growth. Since this is 2018, there is of course an app through which you can monitor and control Plantbox's environment.
S-Ray is another product that's taking flight under the startup Catch Flow. It's a speaker which pushes sound in one direction to limit who can hear the audio. That could prove useful if you're on a conference call and can't wear headphones, which might reduce feedback. Samsung says S-Ray is around a tenth of the size of a typical directional speaker, and it can maintain good volume levels and sound quality while running on lower power than previous speakers. There are a few different models, including a neckband -- though at that point, you might as well sport earphones.
Lastly, For Makers created AppBee, which uses AI to predict users' characteristics based on how they use their phone, as long as users opt in. The aim is to match clients with users, though it's not completely clear what that entails. Samsung says For Makers "hopes to produce more reliable research results at a lower cost compared to conventional, untargeted surveys to enable creators (startups and large corporations alike) to refine products based on user feedback."
The startups went through three months of business training before they were spun out on May 31st. Samsung started C-Lab in 2012 as a way to help employees develop their creative ideas. The startup spin-off policy started in 2015, and the latest companies bring the total number of startups to make it through the program to 34. It's not an entirely altruistic program, though. Incubators typically take a stake in their companies, and Samsung has invested in previous C-Lab graduates.