Samsung Is Connecting All Of Your Appliances In A Big Appliance Orgy

Image: Rae Johnston

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.

Image: Rae Johnston

"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.

Image: Rae Johnston

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.

She's talking to the shelf.

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

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    Sure they may have signed up to standards for connectivity, they did with CEC as well and made a proprietary mess of it.

    I think I read a Giz story where it took 11 hours to get a cup of tea from a 'smart' kettle!

    It's a hard pass from me on internet connected appliances. I want simple, cheap and reliable.

    There's a Samsung fridge with a touchscreen that costs about 5x more than the equivalent normal fridge - you could get a top of the range Surface Pro and glue it on the front for cheaper!

      Exactly. The key words there are simple and reliable. I don't want a device made complicated by having an app to perform a function. I don't need my fridge to answer my door or look up things on the internet.

      The sooner IoT devices disappear the better. Ridiculous gimmick that really has no actual benefit over what we have now. This stinks of progress for the sake of progress. I see no real world advantages to this technology except making things complicated.

        Well i think that is part of the sales pitch mate , it is supposed to make life easier and better .
        i dunno , i would not mind some of it , but i agree , usually the more complex you make stuff , the greater the chance of things going pear shaped .
        i think i like sammys presentation better than others i have seen so far .

      I've been writing and researching consumer electreonics for close to 30 years and and have seen a lot of hype and bullshit. Any solutions looking for a problem to solve dont last. Simply put do any of these connected appliances actually do something useful with their connectivity?

    A Big Appliance Orgy
    mmm...sounds strangely erotic...I'm in.

    The stupidity of designers, manufacturers and sales people of this type of appliance is increasing daily, and when a malfunction happens it's a major disaster!
    KISS, Keep It Simple, STUPID!

      I come from an engineering background and couldn't agree more. The less there is the less there is to fail, it also keeps costs down.
      Majority of faults in consumer devices these days are electrical so adding more doesn't help.

      But that doesn't sell a product these days how ever much I wish it would, you have to get the marketing team in to add some dazzle to it, to make it different from its competitors. It doesn't matter if it's needed or not but they need some stupid gimmick to throw into it So it just isn't another fridge.

      The other point is we don't design things to last anymore. There are "life spans" and these are carefully researched. Checking not only the average time a consumer keeps a product but also the amount of time they would be willing to accept before failure without damaging brand reputation. These time frames are designed around so quality of components and workmanship are getting quite sub par these days. Why build a fridge to last 20 years when the average consumer keeps there's for 10? Built it to lower specs so it only lasts 10 years, charge the same money, then we have a resale in the future when it dies.

      To add further to my other response and Samsung are guilty of this as are others.
      Let's add smart features, we will "base" it off standard protocols etc but we will add our own little bits to it So it only functions completely will other products from our own brand. Sure it will operate with other brands but you won't get the full range of features if you get a competitors product.

      So once you buy in, you're a customer for life. It's not guaranteed money but it puts the odds heavily in your favour.

    instead of often pointless connectivity, add in some decent design and less plastic.

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