I’m looking at a fridge that can answer the door, a rangehood that can adjust its fan with the boiling pot on the stove, a coffee table that can turn on the TV, a washing machine that knows what cycle my sweaty gym gear needs and in the corner of the room – a vase that can pickup my Spotify playlist where it left off in my car.
Samsung made a promise to have all of its products Internet of Things ready by 2020. But a simple connected home won’t do, it seems. It has to be intelligent. And it has to be accessible – everywhere.
“We believe IoT should be as easy as flipping a switch,” Hyunsuk (HS) Kim, President, Head of Samsung’s Consumer Electronics Division and Samsung Research said at CES this week.
The hope is the progress Samsung has made so far will “help consumers realise the benefits of a seamless and simple connected life.”
The idea is to make IoT more accessible, and Samsung says it has found a way to make that happen –
with artificial intelligence and machine learning creating a personalised experience.
“Today’s fragmented and complex IoT ecosystem is a barrier to adoption,” Samsung says. “For IoT to be approachable and accessible it requires scale and open innovation”.
So what makes Samsung think it has the answer? TVs, washing machines, TVs, smartphones, the push for 5G connectivity – and SmartThings, with the SmartThings App and the SmartThings Cloud.
SmartThings is where everything will come together. It’s how the masses will “get” the Internet of Things, home automation, AI and machine learning. It’s how your Dad will show you new stuff he’s learned to do, rather than asking you for tech advice on Christmas Day, every year.
Samsung Connect, Smart Home and Smart View will all be merged under the SmartThings banner later in 2018, and it will all be controlled by the central SmartThings app. You’ll be able to access the app on your smartphone (Android and iOS) and your Smart TV.
It will also be accessible from your car, if its smart enough.
Ignite is one way to make that possible – Samsung is planning to utilise Harman’s cloud platform in the near future, and showed off its fancy “Samsung Digital Cockpit” dashboard at CES. In a nutshell, Ignite lets your car communicate with Bixby and the SmartThings Cloud to your smart home, so you’ll be able to control any of your SmartThings connected devices while you’re on the road.
You can do this with voice, touch, gesture or “context-based” triggers.
Ignite does a lot more, too – but that’s the main gist of why it is relevant to Samsung’s vision of a wholly connected future. Oh, and there is the promise of a 5G-capable “Telematics Control Unit (TCU)” for communications, but more on that later.
Okay, so we’ve got everything on our home connected. Now Samsung wants to make them truly smart.
And that’s gonna happen with Bixby.
Samsung sees this happening first through Smart TVs and its new “Family Hub” refrigerators – both will have “selected models” voice control enabled via Bixby in 2018. You’ll be able to talk to your fridge about what you want for dinner. And it will be able to recommend you recipes based on what’s inside. It will recognise who you are by your voice and show your schedule for the day. It will tell you the weather while you’re making a cuppa in the morning. It will show you video footage of who just rang your smart doorbell.
I’ve seen an oven that will cook a roast dinner with voice commands. I’ve seen a washing machine that will tell my son not to mix white towels with his black t-shirts (and maybe he’ll even listen to it).
All of these products will learn your preferences, adjust accordingly, and make recommendations about how you can live your life more efficiently.
I’m 100 per cent on board for this future. Listen in, Big Brother, if it means I never have to squint to read a washed-out care label again.
This, of course, raises a question we thought we’d never have to ask. What if someone hacks into my fridge?
This is where Knox comes in – Samsung’s hardware security system to protect your home from attackers – of a different kind than what it might be used to. It comes pre-installed in anything you buy that comes from Samsung, and has been hailed as the strongest mobile security platform for smartphones.
It’s worth noting that Samsung isn’t limiting SmartThings to its own products. But this doesn’t mean we are getting SmartThings hardware in Australia, either. It doesn’t look like that will ever happen at this stage.
Setting industry standards to be used by third parties signing on to the SmartThings Cloud is a big focus for Samsung. The Open Connectivity Foundation is one partner working on this with Samsung – OCF is the largest IoT standardisation body in the world. Samsung’s ARTIK chip, air conditioner and Family Hub refrigerator have already been certified for IoT by OFC.
In a demonstration of what the ARTIK chip is capable of, at CES I spent some time in a room called “Project Ambience”, where I saw what a day in the life of a smart, independent woman who don’t need to use nothing but her voice to do everyday tasks would be like.
A busy, noisy, show floor probably isn’t the best environment to show off voice-enabled tech, but it still gave me a glimpse at the vision Samsung is going for here – and as someone who has already come to terms with the future meaning giant corporations are watching and listening our every move – I’m keen as a bean.
Products that are already SmartThings-enabled include the Philips Hue range, Netgear’s Arlo cameras, Ring doorbells and even Google Home and Amazon Echo, so while the “future” is being worked on, we can dip our toes in SmartThings water right now.
So if chatting to Bixby on the daily is something you’d embrace – Samsung are on board with making that a reality.
Gizmodo Australia travelled to CES as a guest of Samsung
I was just in a room with The Wall. No, not the giant ice barrier keeping the white walkers at bay, you nerds - Samsung's massive television, featuring new MicroLED technology, among other things.Read more