Takeaways from Samsung’s Developer Conference

At today’s Samsung’s Developer Conference, they circled around four key trends: digital health, Smart Home, wearables and virtual reality. From these themes, there were a few elements I thought were interesting.

1) Voice of the Body: This theme is a blend of digital health and wearables but as a focal point it is quite interesting. The overall concept is the combination of both sensor loaded wearables and big data to interpret what and how your body is speaking to you and helping you make key decisions based on what your body is saying. An example would be if your heart rate suddenly spikes, perhaps in reaction to anger or stress, you could be notified to calm down, take deep breaths, etc. Or, some day when a sensor can do blood glucose readings, if your blood sugar is getting low or trending downwards (before you even notice) it can alert you that you need to eat and perhaps even give you diet suggestions. This concept has merit because it is where wearable sensors begin to make sense and add value.

From a digital health perspective, wearables and the sensors they encompass, should help us make better decisions about our health, fitness, diet, and more. The “voice of the body” is a great narrative to understand how this vision can become reality. Interestingly, Samsung released a developer kit loaded with a sensor called Simband along with the SAMI digital health platform. It looks like a Gear S but has six sensors in it that function independently or together to do interesting things. The platform and SDK are available for developers to create software and leverage the extensive sensors on the band to come up with interesting applications and use cases. Here is a look at the sensors and you can visit this page for a more detailed look at each of them.

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2. Smart Home: Samsung bought Smart Things earlier in the year and are looking to integrate it into many other forms of smart home applications. Samsung again is making a platform play here, recognizing they can’t build all the hardware and hoping smart home companies will work with their platform for connected home applications. There is still too much fragmentation in this space and no clear winner yet for a standard. That being said, the programmability of the Smart Things platform is interesting. One of the elements of a connected home that is of value will be automation. Meaning, when something happens, a chain reaction of other automated things happens. In essence, your home becomes a computer. An example Samsung showed was an automated task one of their developers created where, as he got near his Scotch cabinet, a light came on and a symphony of angelic voices filled the room. Kind of cheesy but you get the point. The automation of a number of connected objects working in unison is a key element still missing in many mass market connected home applications.

Time will tell how this plays out for Samsung. Especially with competing ecosystems and standards being driven by other major players.

Virtual Reality: I’m quite bullish on Virtual Reality. Samsung is looking to take it as mainstream as they can. It looks like the price of their VR headset will be $199 and it only works with a Note 4 (which they will likely sell approx. 16 million of globally in the next six months). Regardless, Samsung is looking to take the lead in Virtual Reality and it is a category worth leading. They will of course not be the only player, but leadership also means development from time to time. VR has a bright future and we need as many companies as we can developing the market for it.

They released something that may help called Project Beyond. This project uses a camera custom built by Samsung which captures immersive 3D video in HD and from every angle. They intend to set these cameras up in key locations and when you use the Samsung Gear VR headset you can tap into these cameras and it will seem like you are there. The demo I tried was of a camera set up at a park in San Francisco. You put the VR on and it is like you are standing in that location and can look around to see all the vantage points. You could imagine putting these cameras up in major tourist locations. Not everyone can travel there in person but many can see what it looks like to be there.

We are just scratching the surface with VR and have a long way to go but, as I said, it needs backers to develop the market. Good for Samsung for taking a leadership position.

Ultimately, I feel Samsung should be expanding these efforts beyond their own ecosystem. I don’t believe Samsung’s is strong enough or large enough to truly drive these advancements on their own. Their VR solution, their Smart Home platform, even their wearables and digital health platform should be extended to other platforms like iOS for example. I understand why they are locking it to their hardware but, in this case, I think it is the wrong move. If Samsung believes their future is in services then they have to be cross platform and cross hardware.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

8 thoughts on “Takeaways from Samsung’s Developer Conference”

  1. “If Samsung believes their future is in services then they have to be cross platform and cross hardware.”

    Then by the same token, Apple Watch would have to be cross-platform, cross-hardware since more and more of Apple’s advantage lies in services.

    1. Samsung doesn’t have an ecosystem or even a critical mass of devices to support something like an integrated watch. Samsung doesn’t have (and won’t have), a critical mass of devices capable of supporting technologies like Handoff and Continuity, and certainly no critical mass to support something like Apple Pay or even iTunes. Making comparisons between Apple and Samsung when it comes to ecosystems is fruitless.

        1. Wait. Wasn’t there a Pear or Cherry or something like that? I can’t remember exactly, but I recall some fruit named handset.

          Joe

          1. Maybe. Not that I’m aware. There was a pear logo’ed laptop on iCarly, a kid’s show on Nickelodeon. Obviously they were trolling Apple…

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