Family hub — appliances to tell you what you need 

Tech February 11, 2018 15:15

By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation
Rome, Italy

6,339 Viewed

Samsung’s next-gen home appliances will be powered by internet of things and ai technologies to create a ‘smart home’

Samsung has announced it will bring a new “smart home” experience to consumer through its digital home appliance products powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligent (AI) technologies. This move is to offer consumers a seamless multi-devices experience. 

The company’s 2018 “multi-device experience strategy” is to make people’s lives simpler and easier through connecting multiple products from Samsung and other manufacturers, said Steve Lee, president and CEO for Samsung Electronics, Southeast Asia and Oceania.

“We have been investing in innovation, as the resulting outcome is incredible technology and a solution that makes the consumer’s life easier and better,” he said at the Samsung Southeast Asia and Oeania Forum held last week in Rome, Italy.

“For 2018, we will continue to invest in IoT and AI,” added Lee.

He said Samsung believes IoT should be as easy as flipping a switch. The company is making IoT easier and almost seamless through the new products launched at the forum.

Sunggy Koo, vice president for Smart Appliances & Home IoT, Samsung Electronics said the company will transform “connected life experience” through leveraging the diverse market-leading portfolio in both home appliances and chips/CPU.

Samsung forecasts that 30 million of its appliances will be digitally connected by 2020.

Its appliance marketing strategy is to address the driving forces for creating “smart homes”, including increasing demand for monitoring and control via mobile, offering a more affordable lineup of connected appliance products; and providing various cross-device experiences. Samsung will focus on creating smart homes where a large number of small devices are connected digitally.

The company’s flagship IoT product will be the Samsung Family Hub, a single point that interacts with consumers every moment of every day, said Koo.

“We hide the complexity behind the device and offer a comfortable interface to the consumer. We chose the refrigerator as the family hub because it is only appliance that is always powered on, and its location which in most cases is the kitchen, is the centre of the home,” said Koo. “Consumer research revealed that people spend more time in the kitchen, which is the place to cook, eat, and socialise. So we call the refrigerator the ‘Family Hub’,” said Koo.

However, under the company’s integrated IoT strategy, there are three core element, said Lee. First, the SmartThings app will synchronise connectivity between the IoT devices with one app. Second, the SmartThings cloud manages the devices through a single cloud. Third, Bixby, an artificial intelligence powered by voice allows devices to work together.

Samsung in 2014 acquired start-up firm, SmartThings, and replaced its previous in-house Samsung Connect app.

Now, SmartThings’ role is to catalyse an easy transformation of any home into a smart home with a single point of control. Its role as a central app is to control Samsung and other devices and to improve hardware interactions. Samsung expects it to attract a new generation of customers.

Meanwhile, Samsung IoT cloud will enable more value-added services from ecosystem partners. With an estimated more than 1 billion connected devices worldwide, companies are betting on IoT technology catching on as consumers find they can make life simpler and easier.

Samsung’s emergence as the market leaders in their consumer electronics categories is not only driven by technology and innovation. Strategies concerning product design and product development to address consumers’ painpoints have had a major role in the company’s success.

Ken Ding, head of the product innovation team (PIT), Samsung Electronics, Southeast Asia and Oceania, noted the company has seven innovation centres and three research and development centres worldwide. Each works on research and innovation for Samsung consumer electronics products.

The company also has a Lifestyle Research Lab (LRL) working on consumer data insights, attempting to glean the fundamental drivers and emerging values that will shape future needs around consumer electronics products. 

At Lifestyle Research Lab, Samsung divides the innovation process into four phases –explore (insights), concept (prototype), define (business opportunity) and act (commercialisation).

“At Samsung, we believe in open innovation. The product innovation team always works with external partners and internal teams within Samsung,” said Ding.

He pointed to the “AddWash” feature as an example of an innovation that emerged through their process. The add wash feature is an outcome of the combination of research and customer insight that emerged from discovering a customer painpoint in the Asia region, and go widely to the global market. 

The feature allows the user to pause the washing machine and add in a missed clothing item through a small door. The add wash feature helped increase sales of Samsung’s washing machine worldwide.

The air-conditioning “Wind-Free” option is another profitable result that emerged from customer insight and subsequent innovation. 

It allows consumers to maintain a cool room in a draft-free environment after the target low temperature has been reached. The wind-free feature helped Samsung increase sales of its air conditioners.

Samsung recently introduced the new generation of “Family Hub refrigerators” that come with the Bixby voice control and are integrated with the Samsung “SmartThings” IoT ecosystem.

And most recently, the company introduced QuickDrive, a new washing machine technology that allows consumers to reduce by half the time required to do laundry. 

The Samsung WW7800M washing machine is also IoT-ready, boasting an AI-powered laundry assistant called Q-rator, which provides smart features that help manage laundry more conveniently.