Friday, 04 September 2015 01:04

MUST-SEE VIDEO: Samsung brings its 2015 IoT vision to life at IFA


Ok, so it’s not SKINET: Samsung’s Korean Internet of New Things, or SKYNET from the Terminator series; it’s a realistic start for Samsung’s IoT revolution.

Promising to deliver an IoT ecosystem and lifestyle that is, according to the new marketing slogan ‘In Sync With Life’, Samsung has celebrated the impressive advances in inter device connectivity, functionality and benefits its IoT capable devices bring to life today.

During its pre-IFA 2015 keynote in Berlin, Samsung explained that its IoT strategy is ’rooted in the philosophy of openness, cross-industry collaboration, and a human-centric approach’.

The company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung Electronic, Dr W.P. Hong said: “For Samsung, IFA 2015 is all about the Internet of Things. We are certain that IoT will revolutionise the world of consumer electronics, and this is our opportunity to update you on how far we have come in just a year.

“Every year, Samsung sells more than 300 million products to European consumers. Today, our products are used by 85 million Europeans - at home, and increasingly at work. No organisation is better placed to ensure that the latest industrial revolution is driven not by technology, but by people’s expectations. Our vision is of an IoT that’s ‘In Sync With Life’, that’s an IoT for you.”

IFA runs from 4 to 9 September and set to be the source of a great deal of new information and stories over the next few days with plenty more IoT and other tech announces to come, but with Samsung a manufacturer of some many different categories of products and ever improving technology, Samsung’s keynote showcased a lot of cool technology.

This included a smart hub, sleep sensor, SUHD HDR colour reproduction and expanded new UHD content for 4K UHD and 4K SUHD TVs, a new UHD Blu-ray player, a new washing machine you can add more washing to during the cycle, car partnerships with BMW and Volkswagen and new Car Mode for Galaxy smartphones, the Gear S2 smartwatch, video game streaming to Samsung UHD TVs and more.

It’s all showcased, explained and demonstrated in Samsung’s 2015 IFA pre-show, 1 hour and 15 minute keynote presentation, which is embedded below and worth watching to see Samsung’s vision of its IoT future.

There’s also this 1 minute or so ‘TV ad’ from Samsung bringing its ‘In Sync With Life’ IoT vision to life:

Samsung’s presentation also came exactly a week before Apple launches its own next iRevolution, with new iPhones and expected new app-and Siri-capable Apple TV with motion control remote with touchpad and buttons, alongside renewed rumours that Apple will also launch an iPad Pro and an iPad Mini 4, leaving a new iPad Air 3 to next year.

With a much more capable Apple TV, apple’s HomeKit IoT hub comes to life, along with whatever other surprises Apple has in store which some think might even include the unveiling of the Apple Car.

But that’s next week and in Apple’s presentation, with this article looking at what Samsung unveiled.

Of course, if you want the most from Samsung’s IoT vision, you’ll need to buy its various devices, or at least their successors, and with plenty of competition to boot from Apple and everyone else in the IoT industry, but Samsung does have in its favour the fact that it too is more than just a computer company, but one that manufactures a very wide range of products.

Samsung manufactures AV gear, TVs from HD to UHD and its own SUHD 4KTVs, a range of white goods and home appliances and, now, connected white goods and home appliances for the office, cooking, cleaning, computing, speakers, media players, smartphones, tablets and computers, as well as making ARM or x86 processors, flash memory, RAM, SSDs and yet still more.

And for all the talk of Apple on the way to making a car, Samsung once made trucks from 1996 to 2000, and you can still buy them secondhand in the US as you can see here.  .

Meanwhile, Samsung still owns 19.9% of Renault Samsung Motors, which owns the other 80.1%, sold to Renault in a 70% chunk at first during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 with the Korean plant making Korean-made versions of Renault-Nissan cars including an electric vehicle and now using excess capacity to export to Nissan Rogues cars back to the US.

Samsung did launch the aforementioned partnerships with BMW and Volkswagen, with more details on what it entails towards the end of the article.

Samsung’s media release detailing all the announcements is here, my version of it is below. 

So, what exactly were the new IoT devices Samsung launched?

First up is Samsung’s new ‘SmartThings Hub’ with ‘Smart Home Monitor’, which has new sensors and an updated mobile app, which launches, at time of publication, today in the US, next week in the UK, and ‘across Europe in 2016’. While it wasn’t stated, Australia will either get it later this year, or like the Europeans will have to wait until sometime in 2016.

It lets you do video monitoring and has a battery backup with an ‘up to’ 10 hours life - normally more than long enough to see you through a quickly fixed residential suburban power outage.

The video monitoring capability allows people to access a livestream at any time, and according to the keynote presentation, not only records video when an unexpected event is detected, such as motion by the front door, or anywhere a camera and sensors are pointed, but also saves the a number of seconds leading up to the sensor’s triggering so you can get a better view of the person or object approaching.

Samsung’s SmartThings is also introducing a new solution called ‘Smart Home Monitor’ which ‘provides unified access and control against intrusion, smoke and fire, leaks and floods, and other common household issues by delivering real-time notifications and video clips from multiple cameras via the SmartThings app.

Second is Samsung’s new SleepSense device to ‘personalise your wellbeing’ by letting you better understand and manage your sleep.

The SleepSense device is a flat disk sensor that is placed under a mattress, providing contactless monitoring of a your heart and respiratory rate including movements during sleep.

Naturally, it is a connected IoT device that can connect to Samsung appliances and 3rd-party IoT devices. An example of this is when the system detects its human user has fallen asleep, whereupon the TV can turn itself off automatically, the lights switched off and aircon settings changed for a nicer sleep environment.

You see daily sleep scores and reports on your smartphone, and delivers ‘expert advice and recommendations, taking into account each individual’s metabolism – the result of a collaboration with Dr. Christos Mantzoros from Harvard Medical School. SleepSense delivers an accuracy of up to 97% in the comfort of your own home.’

If it can do the ‘Sleep Cycle’ app’s trick of waking you when in a light sleep state is unknown, but if it didn’t that feature should be added.

Third is the aforementioned promise of an exanded UHD ecosystem with new content and partners sees Samsung partnering with Netflix, Amazon, Wuaki, Chili, Strefa VoD, Videoland, Videoload, TVN and Viaplay.

In addition to that, there’s regional broadcast partners across Europe, including Canal Plus, and HD+, who are all vital for creating and delivering UHD content to a global consumer base which obviously includes a lot of Samsung UHD customers who’d love to see more UHD content,

This also includes HD+ in Germany offering the first new 24 hour UHD channel, with most of the day free to all with UHD TVs in its market to watch UHD content, with access to primetime content sold on a subscription basis.

Fourth is the introduction of console quality gaming for new and, if I understood it correctly, for some existing Samsung Smart TVs, achieved via game streaming by GameFly Streaming, so no need for consoles, cables or discs. Gamefly streams popular titles over the Internet, and offers games such as Batman: Arkham Origins, Lego Batman 3, GRID 2 and HITMAN Absolution.

Fifth is Samsung talking about is SUHD TVs being capable of HDR, or High Dynamic Range (HDR) picture quality, which Samsung says ‘showcases greater contrast, brighter colours, intricate shadow detail and distinct highlights.

Overall, the picture appears more vivid and authentic than ever before.’

SUHD TVs are also the first on the market to support HDMI 2.0, which Samsung says ‘enables the transmission of HDR metadata across external HDR-compatible sources’ and is a software update that ‘provides SUHD TV owners with the most lifelike picture quality available today’, broadening ‘the spectrum of HDR content available for consumers, as well as set an entirely new standard for the TV and entertainment industry at large.

Samsung also talked up the sales success of its curved SUHD TVs, and even how its upcoming UHD Blu-ray player had the same curve in it as did the TVs, with a whopping 23 curved screen TV models raining in size from size from 48-inches to 105-inches.

Sixth was Samsung AddWash, a front loading washing machine that ‘allows consumers to add laundry at any point of the wash cycle, thanks to its innovative ‘Add Door’. Now, unless the door washes separately all its own, you wouldn’t want to put the dirty item of clothing too late in the wash cycle or you’d pollute your nice clearly clothes with less washing for a late introduction of some dirty stuff.

Samsung also spoke of how research showed virtually everyone had wanted to put more washing into their front loader but couldn’t because you couldn’t open the front loader door without forcing it, after which water and suds would come out.

So, Samsung’s ‘doorway’ into the closed front door is clever, but the whole time I watched, I remember the many times I had added a sock just found into the wash just started a minute or two ago by opening the top loader’s lid and letting it do its, unlike traditional front loaders that just can’t work like that.

That said, this is a front loader after all, so with a simple press of the pause button stops the spinning drum, you can add laundry to the wash.

As an IoT device, AddWash is a connected washing machine that works with both Android and iOS devices, letting you remotely monitor and operate the machine as well as receive a range of notifications straight to your smartphone.

A ‘SuperSpeed’ cycle promises to ‘wash a normal load in less than an hour’ with SuperSpray, which uses a jet of water to rinse detergent more effectively and an ‘improved ecobubble function’ which ‘creates thicker bubbles that intensely penetrate fabrics 40 times faster than the usual mix of water and soap, delivering exceptional washing results even in cold water.’

Seventh is the collaborations with BMW and Volkswagen, with Samsung saying it ‘sees cars as an important part of the emerging IoT ecosystem, and is working with several leading car makers to innovate in the automotive space.’

If you have Samsung SmartThings Hub, BMW cars will display notifications from the hub to the dashboard in your compatible BMW, while the SmartThings app on your phone lets you c’heck the technical status of your BMW, and even lock and unlock it remotely.’

With Volkswagen, drivers will be offered ‘a seamlessly connected car experience, through Car Mode for Galaxy, an app powered by MirrorLink, to deliver ‘Car Mode for Galaxy’, controlled by both touch and voice powered by S-Voice.

It ‘lets you take calls easily and safely, listen to your favourite playlist, or get directions to your destination. as well as reading you incoming text messages out loud.

If you have a car without a fancy internal system and mirror facility, Samsung says you can still ‘enjoy all the features through Car Mode for Galaxy mobile app’.
You can also connect applicable cars with the Volkswagen app for you new Galaxy Gear S2 smartwatch, letting you locate where you parked your car, or to turn on the car’s air conditioning well before you return to your car on a hot day. You can manage the battery levels of your electric Volkswagen car, too.

Eighth among the mix was a series of new wireless speakers, naturally promising amazing sound.

Dr W.P. Hong reminds us that “At the heart of all Samsung’s IoT innovations is our long-standing approach of researching and observing people’s daily lives, and looking beyond the obvious to find innovative ways of enriching them, by turning everyday moments into enjoyable experiences. This philosophy will not change as we lead the way to a smarter, more connected, and more human future for us all.”

When it comes to Australian availability, only Samsung SleepSense and the Samsung R Series Speakers, although presumably the other items are developments are coming to Australia in due course.

In any case, of SleepSense, Mike Lilly, the Head of Home Appliances at Samsung Electronics Australia said: “We’re excited to announce that Samsung SleepSense will launch in Australia. We look forward to providing more details around pricing and availability for the SleepSense very soon.”

In regards to the Samsung R Series Speakers. Philip Newton, the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Electronics Australia said: “The wireless speaker category is a key pillar in Samsung’s approach to the audio market in Australia. We received a great reception from customers with the launch of our first Samsung Multiroom speakers last year and look forward to launching the Samsung R Series in Australia later this year.

“We know how much Australians love music and entertaining guests in their homes during the warmer months, and because of this, we’ve made sure that Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to have the opportunity to experience these new R Series speakers.

“Our aim is to provide an outstanding audio experience for customers. We’re doing this by creating amazing audio technology in collaboration with our state-of-the-art audio research centre in Los Angeles. Our audio R&D lab combines the best in Samsung innovation technology with an expert engineering team who possesses decades of experience in crafting audio products.

“We look forward to providing further details around pricing and availability very soon.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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