Smart fridge key to Samsung’s IoT push

Smart fridge key to Samsung’s IoT push

LAS VEGAS ― Samsung Electronics on Tuesday unveiled the Family Hub refrigerator, a smart fridge that sports a gigantic touch screen and three inner-view cameras, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The latest product is Samsung’s most ambitious fridge after years of its upscale push through generous use of stainless surfaces and collaborations with the world-famous chefs.

The cameras show all the foodstuffs inside and their information is displayed on a giant 21.5-inch (54.6-centimeter) fully high definition vertical touch screen built into the front door. The screen also supports diverse apps for shopping, cooking and other Internet browsing.

The company’s co-CEO Yoon Boo-keun touted the new fridge as “an inflection point” before the wider adoption of the Internet of Things technology that connects all machines from home appliances to door locks and lighting via the Internet.

“The fridge will drastically change our daily lives just as smartphones did when they replaced feature phones almost a decade ago,” he said at a press conference. “Starting with home appliances, the IoT (Internet of Things) will continue to evolve to upgrade our daily lives in diverse sectors.”

Together with the company’s 2016 smart TV featuring an IoT hub function for the first time, the new fridge, priced at about $5,000, is the key to Samsung’s latest big push in IoT.

Last year at CES Yoon pledged that all the company’s products will be able to communicate with each other by 2020.

The fridge also allows users to order goods from online retailers using the Groceries by MasterCard app, while families can share their schedules via a family calendar app. Another app also offers useful recipes from famous chefs.

Samsung’s smart refrigerator                                                            (Samsung Electronics)

In 2013, Samsung acquired SmartThings, a smart home platform developer. Now the platform works paired with more than 200 devices not just from Samsung, but also from other manufacturers.

“With debates continuing on the global standard, Samsung aims to connect all machines regardless of their manufacturers in the longer term,” he said. “Of course, Samsung products will work best when they are paired each other.”

According to market research firm Gartner, the number of connected devices will surge to 25 billion units by 2020 from about 900 million in 2009. Researcher IDC predicts the IoT market will hit $3.04 trillion by the same year.

Yoon, who stepped away from daily operations at Samsung’s home appliance business division in a recent business reshuffle, has more recently focused on setting the division’s strategic directions and nurturing new growth engines.

Despite business uncertainties such as unfavorable foreign exchange rates, he predicted the company would restore profitability this year in flagship businesses such as TVs.

“With the market getting fast saturated, we will focus more on new creative ideas that are also thoughtful about customers,” he said.

In recent years, Samsung has launched several innovative products into the market that take better care of customer needs. The Active Wash is a top-load washing machine with a separate sink for prewashing, while the Add Wash washer has an extra window to add small items even during a laundry cycle.

Yoon said the company would continue to try new experiments, hinting that an unprecedented display, based on its quantum-dot technology, was under development without further elaborating.


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