Samsung NEXT Director Explains Pursuit of Mobility Tech for Future Smart Cities

August 1, 2019

As Samsung scurries to get ahead on emerging technologies, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence, a director at the company's investment arm, Samsung NEXT, says she's especially interested in the role those technologies will play in our future smart cities and how we travel within them.

Samsung NEXT aims to develop emerging technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, incubating products and services that the company could one day broadly scale.

"We're particularly interested in mobility as a space in smart cities because it's one where Europe — where I'm really focused right now — is a really interesting place to experiment in. It's dense cities, you've got great public transit, a hard commitment to low emissions, and a lot more cycling and walking versus driving," NEXT director Christina Bechhold Russ told Cheddar on Thursday.

"It's a great place for entrepreneurs to try out new modalities, experiment with new business models, especially with things like mobility as a service," she said. As an example, Russ pointed to new efforts by rideshare companies Uber and Lyft to integrate electric bikes and scooters into their platforms' transit offerings.

"The opportunity for urban transportation — and the winners in that space — will be the ones that cannot only do personalized trip planning, but can also optimize it in real-time, and do it on a single ticket," said Russ. "A lot of that comes down to data, so a lot of our investments are on the data-side of mobility right now."

Among other emerging technology sectors, Russ said that Samsung NEXT is also interested in investing in digital health.

"We really think about it as the unbundling of health services, and particularly, the opportunity to make your mobile device the center of your health data, and your identity, and making that portable for you," said Russ.

Samsung NEXT has also acquired the U.K.-based startup Whisk, an IoT- and natural language-based platform that works with recipe publishers, food retailers, and health companies to analyze consumer food patterns.

Another firm Samsung is supporting: Healthy.io, a startup that makes at-home urine test kits that work with your smartphone. That company raised a cool $18 million in February.

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