When you think of a Smart Home, many may think of George Jetson and his futuristic home or the $100 million-plus smart home built by Bill Gates. Once reserved only for the wealthy, smart homes and home automation are actually starting to become quite common and are now getting within reach of the middle class. The driving force to automate our homes is getting stronger – both from consumer demand and the potential for large profits for the manufacturers. The advancements in device technology, the internet and our smartphones/tablets are making what once seemed only like a futuristic dream now available for us today. Sales of smart devices could reach $9.5 billion in 2015 and by 2017 that number could reach $44 billion. Samsung wants to be the ones 'knocking' on our smart home door, so to speak, and are putting money in smart home development and pushing out their line of SmartThings products.
The phrase, Internet of Things (IoT), refers to the objects and products that are interconnected and identifiable through digital networks and all of the electronics in our homes are fair game for this tech revolution – refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, coffee makers, dishwashers, washers/dryers, Smart TVs, thermostats, your furnace to your alarm systems or sprinkler system.
Samsung has been building its home appliance portfolio over the years and is already in many of our homes – how many already own a Samsung smartphone…or even another brand, including an iPhone. Samsung finally recognizes that for this to work, they must embrace the fact that SmartThings must work with all Android and iPhone devices. SmartThings CEO and founder Alex Hawkinson said in a press release, "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."
It is more than coincidence that Samsung has started making this big push with their SmartThings just days after announcements of Google's OnHub router and Apple's soon-to-be-made announcement of an upgrade in their Apple TV, which many speculate will be Apple's future HomeKit. To combat the others, Samsung has improved their Hub to include video streaming and 10 hours of battery life just in case the power goes out. Their improved app allows you to divide the rooms for separate device management and allows you to get alerts on the go. Samsung is even trying to make its way into your bedroom as they announced a new sleep-tracking device called SleepSense. It sits on your mattress to determine the quality of your sleep and integrates into the SmartThings platform.
Samsung expanded its "Works with SmartThings" program to include third party developers, offering "deeper integrations," although Samsung did not go into detail. If they are actually allowing third parties to operate seamlessly with SmartThings, it could really help expand the system. According to Samsung, there are already over 10,000 developers that belong to the SmartThings community and some are big-name ones like Honeywell, Yale, D-Link and Bose, however, most of these developers will work with all platforms in order to secure business.
The focus right now is on Apple's press event next week and if they make their announcement they are throwing their 'core' into the IoT ring. We will then have Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon vying for our smart home dollars with devices to help control everything from thermostats to home security. Samsung's advantage is their open-market approach rather than Apple's closed system. Google is banking on Weave and its cross-platform approach, however, its proprietary system could still be an advantage for Samsung. The developers are all running around trying to provide devices for all platforms and are hoping that one of them emerges as the front-runner – it will make it easier for them and the consumers as they try to unravel this new frontier. Samsung is doing everything it can to ensure they are the market leader.