Twenty years ago, our vision of the future was pretty spectacular, and obviously way, way off. Where are our jetpacks, hoverboards, flying cars, and robots? What I love though is that the future is starting to look easier and more comfortable, without any of the wacky new gadgets we might have dreamed about. If you want an example of that, just look at the Samsung Connected Home, a space that Samsung Canada set up at their head office to show off the possibilities for a smart and connected home.
The beauty of the Samsung Connected Home is that it doesn’t look much different from our homes today, and that’s thanks to the way technology is being integrated into existing products, like the Samsung Smart QLED TVs. Jeff Ingram, the National Training & Development Manager at Samsung Canada, showed off the space and the power of Samsung’s SmartThings app, giving me a tour from the moment someone rings the doorbell, to relaxing in front of the TV, or getting down to work.
The Samsung Connected Home looks like a mix between a home, condo, and an office space covering 3,000 square feet, including a patio, bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a work space.
One of the first features we talked about was actually one that was useful before you even get home. Say you’re running home and want to pre-heat the oven to get ready for supper; just open the SmartThings app, choose pre-heat on your Samsung smart oven, and by the time you get home, you’ll be ready to start cooking.
Next, walking up to the front door, we rang the doorbell, and the porch lights came on. Connecting a smart doorbell, you can activate a sequence of events and devices, and you can even see who is at the door if you have a camera with the doorbell. If you’re coming home, you can use your phone to unlock the front door, using a smart lock, and have the lights turn on as you walk in.
Simple features and automations like these are going to start becoming standard in many homes, and energy-saving features can mean that lights turn off automatically if they’re left on. There’s also a lot of positive security that comes with a smart home, where you can find out who is at the front door even when you aren’t home. Or you can lock your front door if you forgot to lock it on the way out.
What about leaks or floods? Sensors can be placed around key areas of your home to get an alert if the washing machine overflows, or water gets into your basement.
Sitting down in front of the television, the Samsung Connected Home feels even smarter when you realize how much has changed over the last few years of television innovation. Samsung’s latest smart televisions include a host of features, from general ease-of-use, to connectivity.
First up, there’s the TV power and cables. The new Samsung smart TVs include a long, single cable that delivers power and audio/video to the TV. That means that you can hang the television on the wall, or on a TV stand, but you can have the Blu-ray player, power input, and other connections somewhere else nearby. For anyone who has had problems finding a good place to plug in their television, this is a big upgrade.
When you’re using the smart QLED TV, you also don’t need to fiddle with plugs and naming the inputs any more. When you plug in your Xbox One X, the television knows what the connection is, and labels it. Your Samsung Soundbar connects easier, and doesn’t require much tuning just to work, and sound fantastic. And you can get alerts on your television, share your content from your Samsung Note 8 or Samsung Galaxy S9+ so you can watch family videos and pictures where everyone can see them.
Ingram also pointed out that you can get helpful alerts on your television, or even check on the contents of your fridge from the comfort of your couch. With Samsung smart appliances, like the washer and dryer pairs, or their gorgeous new fridges, they all connect to the SmartThings app. The front of the fridges now feature touchscreen displays, and an interior camera lets you take a peek inside to see if you need milk or pop or more cheese. With the washers and dryers, you can setup alerts so you know when the laundry is done and needs to be put away.
Then there’s the bedroom. Like the rest of the house, you can set your smart speaker to control lighting throughout the home, or use your Samsung smart TV to look in on the rest of the house. The baby monitor of today means being able to have a secure camera in your child’s room, and checking in on them from your television or smart phone. You can also set up your television with moods for the lighting, to dim lights for movie time, turn them off at bedtime, or turn on when it’s time to get up in the morning.
Samsung also has a new wireless audio speaker, the VL 350, that’s tuned by audio experts, AKG, and works with Amaxon Alexa. The speaker will launch in Canada early June, and it also includes a remote control knob that you tap to start or pause play, and you gently turn to control the audio volume. It’s a gorgeous audio solution that sounds incredible, and has a modern design appeal for any room.
Finally, we went back to the working space, and for anyone who either works from home or has their own office, there are some great devices that work together to make work a lot smarter.
The Samsung DeX lets you leave the laptop at home by turning your Samsung phone into a desktop experience. The DeX works with the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, and S9 or S9+, and all you do is place the phone on the base, which connects to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. The DeX experience works with a lot of major apps, including Microsoft Office apps, and means that you don’t need to drag your laptop with you everywhere if all you need are email, Office apps, and web browsing.
Combined with Samsung’s positively gorgeous 49″ curved QLED gaming monitor, you can do a lot more, including displaying one input on each side of the screen, or customizing spaces on the screen for different apps.
And then there’s the Samsung Flip, a 55″ whiteboard that pivots vertically or horizontally, connects to your Samsung phone or tablet, and takes meeting notes to a whole other level. The Flip is really breathtaking because the features are so useful. Share your phone screen to the Flip, and show off something you’ve been working on, or share the Flip screen to your phone to add your own notes without leaving your seat. It’s a creative, inspiring device with a lot of functionality for any office, including eye-popping UHD picture quality.
Across all of the devices I saw in the Samsung Connected Home, it’s impressive to see just how easy the features are to use, and to connect devices on Smart Things. The smart home of today is also entirely scalable to your needs and your budget, so you can add elements at your own pace. Starting with a Samsung phone and a television are great to begin before you add a speaker, an appliance, or something else to make your home a little smarter.