CES 2014: Samsung Smart Home aims to connect devices

By Leo Kelion
Technology reporter

  • Published
Samsung stand at previous CES
Image caption,
Samsung's CES booth will host a range of its connected home products

Samsung has announced a system to link together a household's various gadgets, appliances, and utility controls.

It said one way the Smart Home service could be used would be to turn off a home's lights and TV if the owner said "going out" into a smartwatch app.

Samsung said the service would initially be limited to its own products, but added it planned to support third parties' devices in time.

However, one expert doubted the firm's rivals would support the idea.

"Samsung is the most aggressive competitor that exists," said Martin Garner, who covers connected homes technologies for the consultancy CCS Insight.

"So, why would another manufacturer want to use its platform?"

The South Korean firm will show off the technology at its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) when it opens in Las Vegas on Tuesday,

Other companies are expected to demonstrate competing visions at the event.

Image caption,
Samsung wants to allow its smart devices to act as remote controls for the home

Archos has already said it will show off an Android-powered Smart Home Tablet designed to control and access information from other connected devices.

LG will also show off its HomeChat system, announced last year, which allows owners to control devices by sending them SMS-based text messages.

'Grand vision'

Samsung said its new service would initially offer three features:

  • Device Control: Devices including air conditioners and lights can be turned on and off via a smart device app. This can be done whether the user is at home or elsewhere, and includes support for voice commands that can also be spoken into its new TV remote controls.
  • Home View: Cameras built into TVs and other appliances can be used to provide real-time video feeds to a user's smartphone, allowing them to keep an eye on their property when out.
  • Customer Service: Appliances will notify the app if a part needs to be cleaned or replaced, for example sending an alert if a fridge light burns out or if a washing machine filter is clogged.

The firm said its Smart Home app would initially run on selected Samsung TVs, smartphones, tablets and its Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

It will work by sending messages to remote computer servers that in turn send data to Samsung's range of internet connected air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, robot vacuum cleaners, LED lights and digital cameras.

Image caption,
Archos will show off its Smart Home Tablet to challenge Samsung's connected home plan at CES

The company added that it intended to expand the platform to support healthcare products, door locks and unspecified "eco-home applications" at a later date, and would also release a software protocol to enable other device-makers to link up their machines.

However, bearing in mind doubts over whether competitors would co-operate, CCS Insight suggested the firm would struggle to realise its goal.

"Samsung have had the same connected home vision for a while, but their implementation of it was a bit ragged," said Mr Garner.

"In the past they had different apps for different appliances and they didn't all join up. It sounds like they've tidied that up quite nicely now.

"But the thing we worry about is that brand loyalty across appliance categories isn't strong - research suggests if you buy a Samsung TV you don't become more likely to buy a Samsung fridge rather than one from another manufacturer.

"So, just having a grand vision like this doesn't mean people will go for it."

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