Samsung is going to turn your TV into an IoT hub

Steven Loeb · December 29, 2015 · Short URL:

The company is integrating its 2016 SUHDs with the SmartThings platform, which is bought last year

People have been predicting for years that the Internet of Things, and the smart home, would become a breakout hit. So far, though, that has yet to materialize.

Honestly you can only speculate on why that is, but maybe one reason is the lack of a central hub. With so many devices to control, maybe that feels overwhelming to many consumers. So if you were going to have one place to manage all devices, what it would it be? Sure, you could use a mobile device, but that's not super convenient.

To Samsung, the answer is what is already the central device in many homes: the television. The company is going to be connecting its entire 2016 Smart TV line-up with the SmartThings platform, making them all Internet of Things ready, it was announced on Tuesday.

In all, consumers will be able to control over 200 IoT devices through their 2016 Samsung SUHD TV, though they will need SmartThings Extend USB adaptor in order to have full control. 

SmartThings sells sensors that they can be placed in different locations, including a home, office, or car. The sensors then communicate with each other, and can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app. The devices can integrate with devices from IoT manufacturers such as Philips hue, Belkin WeMo, Sonos, Quirky, TCP light bulbs, ecobee thermostats, Dropcam, Jawbone, Life360, and SquareHub.

The company was acquired last year by Samsung for a reported price of roughly $200 million.

Integrating the Internet of Things with the television is a really smart idea. Not only is it the place where people are most likely to gather in the house, but it's also the biggest screen. That means that, lets say you want to access a security camera, you'll get a much better view than on your laptop, and especially your mobile device.

There are many different ways the devices can be integrated. Samsung, for example, will give users the option to have their motion sensors tied directly to the television, meaning that the camera feed will come on automatically if any movement is felt. I'd imagine this would become really, really annoying if you're trying to watch a movie or TV show and you keep getting interrupted because the cat went outside, or something, but it's still an interesting way to integrate the technology. 

Basically, all of a consumer's IoT needs and notifications will be filtered through their television, a device they were most likely using anyway. It will barely even require a change in behavior, which is key to getting people to use new technology.

With Samsung Smart TVs working with the SmartThings technology, we have an opportunity to reach millions of households,” Alex Hawkinson, CEO and cofounder of SmartThings, said in a statement. “Applying this technology into current household devices is a major step forwards that will make it much easier for everyone to experience the benefits of a smart home.”

The technology is already ready to be demonstrated, which Samsung says it will do at CES 2016, which takes place next week.

The consumer electronics space

This is a good time for IoT companies to ramp up their technology, as consumer electronics are having a moment right now, mostly thanks to wearables.

There was $1.3 billion invested in consumer electronics companies this year,  more than double the $680 million that was invested in 2014. Not only that, but it's the first time in at least five years that more than $1 billion has been invested.

The space has also seen deals shoot up over the last couple of years, more than doubling in 2014, and now seeing a 57 percent increase, to 268 deals, in 2015. Here's something really astounding: there were been more consumer electronics deals in 2015 than in the four years between 2010 and 2013 combined, 257 to 268.

Most of that is being attributed to the quick rise of wearables, but that also means that venture capitalists are going to be more willing to hear pitches from companies in the space, and that includes IoT companies.

Many have been predicting that IoT would break out for a long time now. According to a recent report from Gartner, 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 4.9 billion in 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.

The firm also estimates that IoT will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015.

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