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Samsung at IFA 2015: Smart home, UHD Blu-ray player

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Samsung took to the stage at Berlin’s annual IFA 2015 technology tradeshow to show off a bevy of new technologies for your home and beyond.

YH Eom, the president of Samsung Electronics Europe, was first to speak, revealing that “like everyone in this market, we have experienced some pain in Europe”.

However, the Samsung exec then proceeded to wax lyrical on the firm’s successes on the content.

We have sold more than 530 million products in Europe,” explains Eom, revealing sales figures over the last five years.

According to the Sammy boss, an impressive 40% of European households now contain a Samsung TV.

Perhaps more impressive still is the claimed fact that 60% of European households now contain a Samsung smartphone.

Samsung’s products are now available in over 100,000 stores across the continent, which is a perk of what Eom describes as having “the privilege of being the market leader in the electronics industry.”

That’s no small claim, but Samsung’s data reportedly shows that the company is now the number one mobile phone brand in terms of market share.

“We are in a strong position right now, but as many of you will know, our company doesn’t look back at the last five years. We look at the next five years,” says Eom.

He adds: “We will use our strength to enable us to move into new areas, to continue our growth.”

The Internet of Things

Eom continues: “One way we will do that is through the huge potential of the internet of things (IoT). The potential for European consumers is absolutely amazing.”

The exec then cites research by the European Commission, which reveals that the IoT will be worth an estimated 1 trillion euros by 2020.

Next up on stage was Dr WP Hong, the president and CMO of Samsung Electronics, who aptly explained that “this year’s IFA is all about the internet of things.”

“The internet of things is not a trend. It is at the heart of today’s industry of revolution,” explains Hong. “By 2020, all devices made by Samsung will be IoT enabled."

Samsung SmartThings hub

The first real announcement was regarding a new version of the Samsung SmartThings hub.

The latest edition has a more powerful processor, a 10-hour battery life, and a slimmed-down form factor.

Users will be able to connect one or more cameras to the hub, and monitor the footage live from anywhere in the world.

That’s using the Smart Home Monitor, a new app from Samsung that “allows you to watch over and protect your home from anywhere in the world”, according to Alex Hawkinson, the founder and CEO of SmartThings.

Samsung IFA 2015

It’s not just a camera system, mind. You’ll also be able to detect smoke and leaks.

What’s more, the set-up uses intelligent video buffering, so it starts to record before an event is detected. That means you can see what led up to an incident.

Both the new hub and the app are available in the US from today, with a European launch scheduled for next week.

40 winks with Samsung Sleepsense

Samsung then brought out the VP of digital appliances, Yoon C. Lee, to talk up the new Samsung Sleepsense.

“We want to use IoT to help people get a better night’s sleep,” explains Lee. “Sleep is crucial to our health and well-being, a third of your life. We can help you manage your sleep.”

It’s basically a flat, contactless sensor that slips under your mattress. From there, it can measure your heart rate, breathing, and movement “all in real time”, according to Lee.

Despite not actually touching you, the Sleepsense purportedly delivers data accuracy of up too 97%.

Related: These are the 10 best activity trackers around

Samsung IFA 2015

But none of this is any good unless you can put the data to good use, right?

As such, Sleepsense delivers daily sleep reports via an app. This means that you can also monitor loved one’s sleeping remotely. Creepy, eh?

Perhaps a more useful feature is the system’s ability to control other devices in your home.

For instance, if Sleepsense detects that you’ve dropped off while watching tele, it will turn off the TV.

It can also adjust your air conditioning to make sure you’re sleeping at an optimal temperature.

Washing machines of the future

With the mega-hype that surrounds Samsung’s mobile products, it’s easy to forget that the company is a big player in the washing machine market too.

While that might not sound like the sexiest of sectors, Samsung’s been making a concerted effort to ramp up the cool factor of its washers.

“Samsung’s been at the forefront of inventing or reinventing better ways of living by closely studying people’s lives and always looking beyond the obvious,” says Dan Harvie, Samsung Electronics Europe’s Director of Digital Appliances. “Since the first modern washing machine was invented over 100 years ago, we’ve certainly come a long way.”

Enter, the AddWash, a brand new washing technology that lets customers add items in during the wash cycle.

Samsung IFA 2015

That means that if you forget to put a stray sock in the wash, you’ll still be able to get it cleaned without having to start a new wash.

You basically just press a pause button and the drum will stop rotating immediately. You can then drop in additional items through an extra door.

It’s also IoT-friendly, so you’ll be able to remotely pause wash cycles, and check up on how the spin is going.

UHD success

Michael Zoller, the VP of visual display at Samsung Electronics Europe, then proceeded to sing praises of the company’s Ultra HD TV line-up.

“The UHD market is growing dramatically,” explains Zoller.

He’s not kidding either. According to Zoller, Samsung has seen a 246% sales growth for SUHD TV sales between March and June 2015, compared to the same period last year.

Zoller adds: “This is the dawn of the golden age in premium UHD entertainment.”

UHD Blu-ray player

With that in mind, the next big announcement was a bit of an obvious one.

Samsung announced a UHD Blu-ray player, which is a first for the company – the technology has only just become available.

Owners of such a device will be able to play UHD Blu-ray discs, assuming they have a 4K TV too.

According to Zoller, the discs will offer four times the resolution and 64 times the colour expression compared to standard Blu-ray.

The player will also support HDR, and 60 frames per second video playback.

Excitingly, Samsung’s new player will be able to upscale content to UHD. It won’t be true 4K, of course, but it will make Full HD content look a little more natural on the high-resolution screen.

The player will be launching early next year in Europe.

Game Streaming

UHD Blu-ray isn’t the only TV technology Samsung’s been working on, however. The South Korean tech giant used IFA 2015 to announce what Zoller calls “a new era in premium gaming”.

He was talking about Gamefly, custom-built Samsung software that lets you stream video games directly through your Samsung TV set.

GAMEFLY 5

Details were light, but games set to feature on the platform include Batman: Arkham Origins, Grid 2, Hitman Absolution, and LEGO Lord of the Rings.

Gamefly will be appearing on Samsung smart TVs – “without question, this is the future of gaming,” says Zoller.

Car Mode for Galaxy

Next up is Car Mode for Galaxy, a new app for Samsung Galaxy mobile devices that gives you greater control over your car.

“The Car Mode for Galaxy is an app that enhances your driving experience by allowing you to use key smartphone features safely in your car,” says Jean-Daniel Ayme, VP Mobile, Samsung Electronics Europe.

He continues: “It offers seamless connectivity between a smartphone and in-vehicle entertainment, powered by MirrorLink.”

But what does it actually do? Well, all the obvious stuff, like listening to music playlists, taking calls, offering up directions to destinations, and reading out text messages.

Closing Words

Eom returned to the stage to close down the press conference, offering some sage words about the company’s IoT strategy.

“What I can say for certain is that no other company is as well-positioned as Samsung to drive the change and help create the IoT ecosystem,” says Eom.

He closes: “The internet of things is absolutely central for Samsung’s vision of the future and vital to maintain our European leadership.”

What did you make of the Samsung IFA 2015 press conference? Let us know in the comments.

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