This month, in San Francisco’s Moscone Centre, Samsung held its second annual developer conference with over 200 speakers across the three day event. During the 90-minute keynote, Samsung touched on a wide variety of topics including wearables, digital health and smart homes. The conference also covered Samsung’s increased focus on providing software related services, through opening up collaboration with start-ups; as the company moves beyond its focus on hardware.
Samsung introduced its new initiative Samsung Flow at the event. Much like Apple’s Continuity, this feature allows the user to switch seamlessly between the devices they use everyday. Flow works in the following three ways:
- Transfer – allows the user to move content and activities between Samsung devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, smartwatches and even TV sets
- Defer – allows the user to stop working on one device and continue exactly where they left off on another
- Notify – allows users to receive push notifications and device status alerts on all devices
Samsung’s software advancement will help secure its place in the enterprise space. For example, in the case of the defer feature, it will allow the user to create and edit documents or spreadsheets whilst they are on the move and continue upon their return to the office. With notify, especially in a fieldforce environment, push notifications can be sent to your smartwatch when your smartphone may not be easily accessible. The use cases and benefits to the enterprise are endless, however there is a fairly significant drawback, in that in order for businesses to take full advantage of this feature, companies will need to fully invest in Samsung products throughout their organisation.
Digital health and wearables
During the keynote, Ram Fish, Samsung’s Vice President of Digital Health, introduced the second generation of the Simband wearable reference design (six months after the first generation release in May this year).
Whilst the first version contained a variety of sensors for measuring heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a cloud-based software platform to collect sensor data from the device for analysis; the second version contains extra sensors including temperature and moisture sensors. As a reference design, second Generation Simband isn’t meant for a consumer audience, but instead for developers and partners to create hardware and software for the healthcare market.
The second generation release also included an announcement on the SDK for Samsung’s digital health platform, as well as details of availability of an open API to utilise SAMI, Samsung’s own cloud-based platform.
Samsung is opening up the arena to allow both app and sensor developers to use the Simband blueprint to produce sensor modules and apps beyond what the current market is offering with wearables. By doing so Samsung is facilitating technological advancement in the healthcare sector, but it is also securing its role in the sector and creating a key differentiator for its platform against competitors.
The home automation platform, SmartThings also debuted during the developer conference, aimed at helping to create new controls for Samsung’s smarthome platform. Samsung acquired SmartThings in August, to expand its smart home offerings. With a SmartThings hub connected to the home router, users are able to monitor their appliances on their smartphone via the SmartThings app.
To boost its own ecosystem, the area of IoT is where Samsung’s conglomeration of consumer products, combined with its mobile devices products, can shine. During the conference Samsung showed off its integration with the SmartThings hub with connected refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners and robot vacuums. According to Alex Hawkingson, SmartThings CEO, moving forward, every Samsung smart appliance will to connected to the SmartThings platform. Samsung have to be careful, by developing a platform that only integrates with Samsung products the company is likely to create an ‘internet of silos’. ARM, the British computer chip designer, developed mbed to combat fragmentation in the industry, which could be a consideration for Samsung to use to combat this issue.
In order for Samsung to retain its position and indeed grow its market share, it needs to differentiate itself from the rest of the market. It is important that Samsung collaborates with start-ups and other developers to strengthen its software offerings and provide customised software for its devices, to move beyond Google’s Android to create its own independent ecosystem. During this three day event, Samsung has highlighted how it is doing just that.