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Samsung Electronics wants to seamlessly connect all of the devices in your life, and its strategy to do that is built around a technology dubbed SmartThings, which it views as the remote control for the internet of things.
IoT, or making everyday objects smart and connected, is an ambitious idea. But it can be confusing for users who are faced with so many different ways to set up, interact with, and connect their various devices and household objects. Samsung executive H.S. Kim described the company’s strategy to simplify things at the company’s press event at CES 2018, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week.
“The time for the true delivery of the promise of the internet of things is now,” Kim said. “For many, the world of connected devices is confusing.”
Samsung bought its SmartThings division in August 2014, and it now has 370 certified devices from 40 different brands. Ninety percent of the company’s products are now IoT-ready, and Samsung already sells about 500 million connected devices a year. But even Samsung’s own products had unique interfaces and connectivity standards.
The grand strategy is to use the Samsung SmartThings Cloud, Bixby voice controls, connected car technology, and the upcoming 5G wireless broadband to deliver seamless connectivity via a single app and a single cloud.
Now technologies such as Samsung’s Bixby voice recognition can make it easier for consumers to control their devices with natural language voice commands.
So what do you get when you’ve tied everything together? Your Family Hub refrigerator can look at your refrigerator contents and tell your app what kind of meals you can make with those ingredients.
The unification also allows for cross-device convenience. You can use the TV remote to say, “Show me what’s in the fridge,” and the image of your fridge contents will appear on your TV screen. You connect your Android smartphone to the TV via SmartThings Cloud. You use the SmartThings App to get your Spotify playlist or Hulu shows to run on your TV. One significant benefit is that you don’t have to remember your Wi-Fi password for every new device you connect. Samsung calls this effortless login.
The company is working to make various products from different brands compatible through the Open Connectivity Foundation, which has 397 members. By 2020, all Samsung devices will be compatible with the Open Connectivity Foundation standards, Kim said.