Samsung is going all in on the Internet of things, betting that connected appliances and faster Internet speeds will result in happier customers.
Executives for the electronics giant, speaking at the 2018 CES technology show in Las Vegas on Monday, reconfirmed a vow made two years ago that all of the company’s products will be IOT-compatible by 2020—adding that 90% already are as of today. And it plans to use its existing SmartThings app to ensure that those devices can all talk to each other—from the TV to the phone to the refrigerator to the washing machine.
Samsung promised that the initiative would debut in the spring.
What that means for users will depend on which Samsung appliances they own, of course. One example is people who buy a new Samsung TV will no longer have to worry about entering user names and passwords for services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify when they initially set up their TVs. That information will automatically entered into the TV by checking other systems in which the customer is logged in, making it a more seamless experience.
TV sets will also have personalized recommendations for movies and shows, based on a user’s overall viewing habits on all their devices. TVs will also include Bixby, Samsung’s voice-controlled digital assistant, and will be able to double as a central hub for smart products around the home, letting users do everything from see who is at the front door to adjust the thermostat.
The goal of the push, says Tim Baxter, president and CEO of Samsung’s North American division is to create an “eco-system of devices working together to produce unique experiences.”
As part of the initiative, Samsung will expand the number of smart refrigerator models it sells by introducing 14 new models that come with its integrated screen and newly expanded FamilyHub technology that lets owners stream music, leave notes to each other, and view the contents of the fridge in real time. Through Bixby, the FamilyHub will differentiate between users’ based on their voices and give custom information to them, such as their schedule for the day or commute times to school or work.
“IOT is still frustrating to a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be,” said Yoon Lee, senior vice president at Samsung Electronics.
Samsung’s not stopping with its own products, either. The company is working closely with the Open Connectivity Forum, the world’s largest IOT standardization body, to have all SmartThings-compatible products work with the app. And the company said it has signed an agreement with a “leading European auto manufacturer” to extend this IOT integration to vehicles (letting, for instance, people check if they’re out of milk as they drive by the store).
Samsung has previously tried and failed to make its ecosystem more connected. To ensure this effort is more successful, Baxter said, the company has invested $14 billion in research and development over the past year.