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Samsung advances IoT strategy with SmartThings and smartwatch moves

Korean tech giant Samsung has used the IFA consumer electronics show to showcase its IoT efforts, including the first products of its SmartThings digital home acquisition and a new smartwatch.

Samsung acquired digital home startup SmartThings a year ago and has taken that long to combine it with its in-house IoT efforts. In a blog post it announced “We’re excited to announce that the next generation of the SamsungSmartThings Hub, a new lineup of products, and a brand-new SmartThings app experience is available today.”

The Hub is the kind of premium wifi router that is currently in fashion, that is also designed to facilitate connection to other SmartThings devices, that seem mainly to be domestic sensors for things like motion, water leaks, etc.

Samsung has also redesigned the app for controlling all this IoT goodness which is available on Android or iOS. It enables the user to interact with their IoT devices, receive alerts, take action, etc. You can even use a connected video camera to keep an eye on your place when prompted by a motion sensor.

“People are beginning to understand the real value and utility smart home technology can provide in their everyday lives. With this next major iteration of our products, we focused first and foremost on security and home monitoring to help answer the question, ‘is everything okay at home?’” said Alex Hawkinson, CEO and founder of SmartThings. “This marks our first product launch as part of the Samsung family, and together we’re continuing our commitment to deliver the easiest smart home solutions with a truly open ‘Internet of Things’ platform that maximizes collaboration and innovation across the industry.”

Another IoT devices announced by Samsung at the show was Sleepsense, which is a sensor that you put under your mattress, which tracks the nature of your sleep. When you wake up it can deliver a report to an app on your phone, summarised by an arbitrary score derived from the following: total sleep time, sleep efficiency, time it took to fall asleep, number of times you woke up, number of times you got out of bed, percentage of time in REM (rapid eye movement) and percentage of time in deep sleep. There’s even a smart alarm that works out the best time to wake you up based on your sleep cycle.

“For Samsung, IFA 2015 is all about the Internet of Things,” said Dr W.P. Hong, CMO for Samsung Electronics. “We are certain that IoT will revolutionize the world of consumer electronics, and this is our opportunity to update you on how far we have come in just a year. No organization 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.”

Despite being one of the first to market, Samsung’s smartwatch efforts have delivered a disappointing return so far. Apple’s arrival raises the stakes and Samsung responded at IFA with the launch of the Samsung Gear 2, which they’ve wisely changed to a round form factor.

“For the past several years, Samsung has pioneered and advanced the wearables category, bringing brave new concepts to the smart wearables market,” said JK Shin, CEO and Head of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Business. “TheSamsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s most progressive innovation.”

The world’s biggest tech companies are in the early stages of a consumer IoT land-grab. Google has things like Next and OnHub, Apple is increasingly looking to rely less on the iPhone for revenue and the announcement this week thatSamsung is partnering with Gemalto for mobile payments will have been made at least partly with the success of Apple Pay in mind.

Things aren’t going well for Samsung in smartphones right now and it will see IoT as an opportunity to establish a strong independent presence in what promises to be one of the major technological trends for the next few years.

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