Are you an Android fan? More specifically are you a Samsung fan? If so, then the connected home stuff that Samsung is launching today might be right up your alley. The South Korean electronics giant has introduced what it calls its Smart Home Service to control connected appliances and eventually help consumers build out automatic scenarios that could make their lives easier.
The Samsung post announcing the launch explains that someone using the Samsung Smart Home service (available via an Android app today) could program their devices so when she says “Good Night” to the TV remote control, connected devices within the home such as the recently launched Smart Bulb and air conditioners automatically turn off. Such is the stuff of home automation dreams.
But it has a big catch. For any of this automation to work you need to have Samsung gear. This isn’t an open play. Still, as the owner of an ancient Galaxy S phone and a fairly new Samsung fridge (I bought it last year), I was pumped to see that Samsung has started its connected home play with the following devices:
- Samsung Smart French Door Refrigerator
- Samsung Smart Front Loading Washing Machine
- all 2014 Smart TV models
- Samsung Gear 2
- Samsung Galaxy S 5
Y’all, I was so close to being the owner of a connected fridge! Alas, I am not, but Samsung’s closed pitch here isn’t exactly a surprise given how it has treated its smart watch launch. The Gear watch for now only works with Samsung handsets, which seems a bit ridiculous given that a watch is a purchase one has typically made for fashion purposes with the hope that it lasts for years. Meanwhile a handset gets tossed every 18 months, if not sooner.
The other odd bit here is that Samsung seems to think consumers are going to buy only Samsung products, something that could happen in a small sub-segment of the population or even with a sub-segment of devices like a handset and watch, but isn’t likely across the home unless Samsung is talking to new home builders. Unless my connected appliances make dinner for me, there’s no app or service that would make me limit myself to all Samsung appliances.
I brought this up when I was interviewing Curtis Sasaki, SVP and Head of Samsung Media Solutions Center America last November (at the 9:25 mark) and he was pretty evasive about how real such a closed vision will be and for how long.
“It’s great that we have all of these products out there that connect to the net, but I think our job … is to figure out how do you connect them together. And obviously from a Samsung perspective we can do a lot because these are products that we ship, but we also have products that also work with non-Samsung products,” he said. He then went on to discuss a TV app that works across multiple sets.
So there is hope that Samsung might eventually link up with Panasonic or Kenmore (both of which are part of the AllSeen Alliance trying to build a standard interface for the internet of things) or even that I might link my Philips Hue lights with my future Samsung fridge, but for now it’s a closed ecosystem. That’s fine by me. I’m a long way out from buying a new fridge anyway, and by the time I do, I bet things will have drastically changed.
Meanwhile one can register for the Samsung Smart Home app with their Samsung Account. For those with smartphones, the app can be downloaded from Samsung Apps and Google Play. Samsung is planning a separate app for the Gear 2 powered by Tizen and the app for Samsung’s 2014 Smart TV models will be available in April. Later, connected vacuums air conditioners and light bulbs will join the Samsung smart home party.