Very soon, we're going to be living in a hyperconnected world. Samsung's IFA 2015 gadgets want to be all over your body and all throughout your life.
At its IFA 2015 press conference in Berlin, Samsung took the opportunity to talk up its successes -- over half a million smartphones sold around Europe, for example. But it's also looking forward to the future, pushing heavily for an Internet Of Things where everything -- your washing machine, your smartphone, your tablet, your air conditioner, your TV, your fridge -- is interconnected and Internet-enabled.
An Internet Of SmartThings: Everything Will Be Connected
By 2020, all devies made by Samsung will be Internet-connected and Internet Of Things interoperable. This is a huge promise, and a huge claim -- a world where all your little gadgets and peripherals and activities are talking to each other.
A promo video showed a guy cycling home while his smartphone showed him how long until dinner was cooked in his IoT-connected oven, and a lady walking through a bottle shop while being guided to her favourite bottle of wine.
There's a huge potential for IoT to transform the way we live, but it's up to Samsung to prove to us that it's genuinely useful and worth paying a premium -- over a non-Samsung device, but also over a non-IoT device -- to buy.
As well as smart living, Samsung wants to be in smart health and smart mobility in partnership with companies like BMW and Volkswagen. Smart retail is one of those areas where Samsung might genuinely already be making inroads with services like Samsung Pay and security through Knox.
Samsung's calling its IoT platform SmartThings -- a company acquired by Samsung not too long ago. The central device in the SmartThings family is the SmartThings Hub -- a central hub, with 10-hour backup battery, to which other Smart devices connect. A SmartThings camera tracks motion, a SmatThings-enabled washing machine does your laundry at the right time -- you get the idea.
A SmartThings Smart Home Monitor checks for smoke, water leaks, and so on and communicates with your smartphone or other personal device through the Hub. Everything runs through a SmartThings app, of course, which delivers notifications a la iMessage on the iPhone.
SmartThings gear is available now in the US and will be available next week in the UK, but we're still waiting on info from Samsung Australia -- stay tuned.
Samsung SleepSense: Understand Your Sleep, Do It Better
Samsung SleepSense is a new product that monitors, tracks and catalogues your sleep, quantifying it to give you a better idea of your sleep's quality. On the surface, SleepSense feels very similar to your Jawbone UP or other sleep-tracking fitness band, but it's more.
A small, contactless disk that you slip into your mattress or sleep linen, SleepSense tracks movement, breathing and other factors and sends that data to the 'net. The big hook is that SleepSense integrates with your TV, air conditioner and other gadgets to optimise your sleeping experience -- turning off the screen when you're falling asleep watching it, and will adjust your aircon to keep you at the right temperature.
Then, when you wake up, your coffee machine will turn on, curtains will open -- in a perfect world where you have an entirely Samsung, entirely SleepSense, entirely SmartThings household, of course. Samsung is partnering with a Harvard Medical School professor to optimise SleepSense to track the human body and metabolism.
Samsung SUHD TVs And Blu-Ray: Content Is King, As Usual
Samsung has seen SUHD sales grow by 246 per cent in the last year -- the company calls it "dramatic growth". But to push that growth even more, it's partnering with companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime to push more UHD content to screens through streaming services internationally.
(Of course, in Australia we have the problem of generally dodgy internet to deal with; that's not exactly something Samsung can fix for you, but it'll have the content ready via its partners when that 'net gets better.)
As of today, all new Samsung UHD TVs -- including SUHD -- will support HDR video technology, massively increasing the dynamic range available to screens. That's done through the new HDMI 2.0a standard, which new Samsung TVs and sources like a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player will support. That particular player is coming out early next year, at least internationally.
UHD with HDR is significantly more detailed in the especially bright and especially dark parts of the screen; 20th Century Fox is committed to releasing a large catalogue of its movies and TV library in the new HDR Ultra HD Blu-ray format, instantly making a large amount of content easily available for viewing on compatible Samsung screens and Blu-ray players.
Samsung Wireless Audio: Omnidirectional Speakers For Your Home
A new R5, R3, and R1 omnidirectional speaker in Samsung's wireless audio multi-room system are the stars of the multi-room audio showcase here. We've really liked Samsung's ovoid multi-room speakers in the past, so fingers crossed that these ones are similarly good. Pricing ranges from $329 to $599 Australian dollars, with the larger speakers predictably costing more. They'll be out in the second week of October in a bunch of big box retail and specialist audio stores around the country.
The speaker have their own touch controls on the top, letting them control and be controlled by the smartphones or PCs that they're connected to. That's complemented by vaguely Sonos-esque flat vertical faces, covered with soft cloth, that are designed to look unobtrusive and therefore fit in seamlessly in the centre of a household living room.
Car Mode For Galaxy: Your Smartphone Mirrored To Your Car's Displays
When you're driving, you shouldn't be distracted by your phone -- that much is true. You definitely shouldn't be touching it. That's why Samsung is introducing a new Car Mode for some of its Galaxy smartphones, including the new S6 Edge+ and Note 5, that disables certain features and channels things like messages and calls through the multifunction display of any relatively new Bluetooth-enabled vehicle through a service called MirrorLink.
Importantly for the vast majority of car owners, there's also a standalone mode that will run most of the features -- like voice activated call answering, text-to-speech for SMS messages, and the like -- directly through the phone's display and speaker. No word on whether it's officially coming to Australia, just yet.
Samsung AddWash: Samsung Just Fixed Front-Loading Washers
This is pretty cool; Samsung has a new smart washing machine, the AddWash. It's a washing machine with two doors, so you can pause it while it's already running and add in that extra dirty towel or extra pair of dirty soccer shorts.
And, if you weren't sure, the AddWash is Samsung SmartThings compatible so you can schedule, control and check up on your washing from the SmartThings app on your mobile even when you're not at home -- if you wanted to do that kind of thing, of course.
Samsung Gear S2: A Smartwatch For Samsung Phone Owners
As we already knew, the Gear S2 is built around a 1.2-inch, Super AMOLED 360x360pixel circular display, making it the equal most detailed smartwatch display alongside the Apple Watch. It's a premium device, naturally. and runs Samsung's bespoke Tizen operating system.
There will be two Gear S2 designs available -- the anodised aluminium Gear S2 with Samsung-bespoke wristband, and the black Gear S2 Classic with a regular 22mm wristband. Both will also be available as SIM-enabled variants, letting you use them away from your smartphone if you're running or travelling temporarily.
We still don't know exactly how much the Gear S2 will cost, or when it will be available in Australia -- but we do know it's coming. Stay tuned and we'll get as much info as we can. We'll know more at Samsung's expo later tonight Berlin time.