Samsung IoT Innovation
Samsung’s recent Developer Conference highlighted a few key concepts the organization plans to cultivate going forward, not least of all plans to simply produce more of everything. But the conference’s logo, “connecting the future everywhere you look”, is perhaps eloquently expressive of some strong initiatives Samsung is making in the Internet of Things (IoT) arena.
At this year’s conference, Samsung has displayed a few products that, while not likely to reach the consumer market any time soon, exhibit some of the possible devices their Artik line of chips will support. The Otto prototype, an emotive robot able to answer questions as well as act as a casual security system, is functionally similar to Amazon Echo and is also able to interact with smart appliances. Samsung additionally displayed a light switch that listens and responds to questions, and a security system which uses algorithms to differentiate between humans and animals. The goal of these devices is to encourage customers to conceive of new ideas, and says Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems at Samsung, “I don’t think any other company is going to this length to build this quality of reference designs… This is a different way of giving an idea of where IoT can go.”
Smart Devices in Our Homes
Already one of the world’s largest TV and smartphone manufacturers, Samsung plans to immerse itself even more in our homes in the coming years through home automation, focusing on internet connected appliances such as ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, and light bulbs. Earlier this year, a Samsung smart refrigerator able to recognize missing items and send a relevant grocery list to its users was demoed, but with recent reports of vulnerabilities in their Smart Home automation system, Samsung’s SmartThings developers have been faced with some fresh challenges that will need to be adequately addressed before going ahead with further smart home innovations.
Samsung Cloud Services
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In order to improve the performance of their future IoT devices, Samsung is building its own cloud services, and not only advancing the functionality of IoT devices, this network will also assist with wearable data collection. Rivaling Microsoft’s Azure and IBM’s Bluemix, Samsung’s Artik Cloud is built on top of Amazon Web Services and being developed to provide connections to organizations’ existing data storage and cloud services. Addressing what might be one of the chief obstacles to the rapid adoption of IoT, the Artik Cloud provides privacy and permissions management, open internet standards based authentication, and secure device registration.
Fostering Loyalty through Intersection
Because hardware is no longer a primary differentiator, hardware manufacturers like Samsung are fighting to create their own development ecosystems that encourage the implementation of their products. And so, while the reference designs unveiled at the Samsung Developer Conference are unlikely to ever become Samsung consumer products, their high quality and fascination help engage both consumers and developers. Along with these prototypes, Samsung’s Artik Cloud will enable the connection of smart home devices across brands. This means that products which currently can’t interact could be melded for more tailored user experiences, and Artik will be able to cooperate with Twitter, Instagram, Amazon Echo, Nest, FitBit, and other home smart technologies. Samsung will apparently even be working with Amazon’s digital voice assistant, Alexa. Says Abhi Rele, Samsung director of product marketing for Samsung’s Strategy and Innovation Center, “You want all of those [smart home] devices to talk to together. Today a lot of that is custom work people need to do. But with the Artik Cloud, you’re able to easily wire up or connect those devices.”
According to Harbor Research and Postscapes, in 2014 the smart home industry generated revenues of $79 billion. Cisco believes that today’s 15 billion connected devices will rise to 50 billion by 2020, while Intel optimistically predicted (in 2014) that 31 billion devices will be connected by then.
If even the most cautious estimates are trusted, our world will soon be dominated by IoT devices and smart appliances, and so Samsung’s move towards interoperability and cross-brand compatibility deserves commendation. Hopefully, synergy in the IoT market will follow.
By Jennifer Klostermann