Despite a growing consensus that today's households are saturated with human-interaction diminishing screen-time, Korean-based Samsung has decided that the solution to meaningful family interaction involves MORE screens, rather than less. Enter their new line of connected home devices:
1) The Samsung Activewash (TM) clothes washer includes a deeper and wider sink than last year's model, allowing users to pre-treat a load right on top of their washer rather than having to locate the unit near a sink. For Front-loading machines, Samsung has added a portal-like feature that allows one to pause the cycle and subsequently shove anything from a sock to a towel or pair of jeans through to add it to the wash. Both of these devices include new controls that are set in the middle of the lid rather than in the "difficult-to-reach" rear of the machine. But wait-- what abou the screens? Both types of machines feature wifi that allows them to connect to users' phones for notifications about cycle duration and status, as well as command and control of the machines.
2) For centuries, the kitchen has been the heart of technology in the home. We've shoved fire, ice, and water into the room and today take for granted that each appliance is something of a testament to both our oldest and newest food processing technologies. Taking that paradigm to a new level, Samsung has introduced a new version of it smart fridge. With its wifi-connection, apps and HUGE 21.5" screen, Samsung's smart fridge includes not only connectivity, but collaboration and interactivity. Citing the way the recent trend in stainless-steel finishes has removed the family's ability to use the refrigerator as a billboard for childhood art, important announcements, and novelties like magnets, Samsung has created several apps that allow families to use their smartphones to post not only images, but notes and other information on the fridge. In addition, the refrigerators can now mirror the content displayed on a user's Samsung Smart SUHD television set, so that they don't have to miss that critical moment of the Big Game while getting up to retrieve a drink or some snacks.
Not only does the fridge watch TV, it also contains robust grocery-shopping functions, that are designed to help contemporary families save money and time when it comes to keeping their homes stocked with food.
The most straightforward of these tactics is the fridge cam. Samsung have developed a system in which every time the users closes his or her refrigerator door, the machine take a photo of the contents of the cold Box. Users can gain access to the fridge's photos through the available Samsung app and use the image to determine what they need for the next week's stores,
At first glance there's a "who cares" reaction but apply a little thought and you begin to realize how much money (over time) you'll be able to save by checking the fridge before you buy. It's something we should all be doing before going to the store, but let's be frank-- the vast majority of us forget to. When you consider the fact that Amaricans throw out something like 45% of food, it's clear that we've got too much of it lingering in our fridges-- and some of that is from over-buying.
The second trick that this fridge has in store for its users is deep integration with MasterCard's vendor partners like FreshDirect. Through the fridge, you can buy groceries and have them delivered to your door. No word on what the delivery cost might be, but it's an interesting way to make good on Samsung's promise to deliver technology which provides convenience by saving both time and money.
3) The Smart TV got smarter. A lot smarter. Not only has Samsung added a complimentary USB dongle enabling support from their mid-2014 purchase of Smart Things, but the company has retooled the Smart TV interface to support a number of new and intuitive interactions.
The Smart Things dongle enables users to vocally command any device compatible with the Smart Things hub. With the device properly installed inserted into the side of the television set, the functionality seems to mirror Amazon's Echo, which also connects to various connected home devices platforms, including Smart Things.
The the interface update is perhaps more exciting. The Smart TV places content directly in front of users, rather than the typical app-enabled paradigm of having to click into an app in order to gain access to its content. Rather than opening Amazon Video and browsing the app, the Smart TV can lay out the trending content from Amazon or ESPN or any other connected service right as soon as the user selects that source of content.
Further more, the television is equipped with technology that empowers it to learn various remote functions quickly and easily so that your Samsung remote can easily become your only remote. On top of all thins functionality is Samsung's ability to quickly access devices attached to the Smart TV without having to focus on changing inputs. The television seamlessly move the user over to an Xbox One or, a Time Warner's cable system. That last bit's a boon to anyone who's ever wanted to hide or get rid of their clunky cable box.
On their own, all of these devices, with their robust feature sets and well honed interfaces would be compelling to even lead in their respective categories. working together, Samsung has put together a suite of devices that work well together and are accessed by the same app in a phone. This means users can just look for the Samsung brand on any of these electronics and assume that it's going to play nicely with their other Samsung devices.
Among other items mentioned were wifi connected...
...Which belies a significant marketing pain point: why aren't all of these devices protected under the very same brand. We've got the Galaxy phone and the Smart TV. The wifi-enabled stove and oven are all named with disparate brands. Would that I were in charge of marketing, it might be fun to rebrand the line of products to just read "Galaxy." This way phone owners would recognize immediately that this washer or TV, or other device was compatible with their phone.
But that would make too much sense.