Samsung hopes that, one day, every device in your home will connect to SmartThings, but it also knows you're not a hermit. Eventually you're going to have to step outside and, as it so happens, plans to have a SmartThings-enabled car to greet you on the driveway.
Samsung tasked Harman, the home and car audio equipment maker it acquired last year, to develop a smarter car infotainment system called Connected by Harman. At its developer conference this year, Samsung revealed it for the first time, built into a Maserati.
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The Maserati is sleek, but what's inside is sleeker. Connected by Harman is an infotainment system like CarPlay or Android Auto, but on steroids. We got a demo of the technology on show floor. The SmartThings-enabled Maserati is listed among other SmartThings-enabled devices in the app, so you can make it a piece of your smart home routines. Our demonstrator showed some of this off by telling Bixby that he was ready for work and then the driveway's lights turned on and the car started up.
He got in the car and was then able to listen to his tunes and such. The interface also has SmartThings available, letting you keep an eye on what's happening at home. For instance, if you wanted to make sure the home was getting vacuumed while you're sat in traffic (not that you should control your smart home in traffic) you could use SmartThings to active your Samsung robot vacuum.
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What was more exciting was using SmartThings on the Maserati for groceries. You're driving out on the town and suddenly you can't seem to remember if you have enough milk in the refrigerator. Using the car-based SmartThings, you can peek into your Samsung refrigerator and then head off to the grocer to get your milk.
Yes, you can do these things on your phone with the SmartThings app now, but if you're driving around or have a one-hour commute every morning and evening, checking your phone is unsafe. Browsing your refrigerator from your car's centre console isn't exactly the safest thing to do either, but it's better than pulling out your phone.
Naturally, when you bring your SmartThings-enabled car back home you can trigger all sorts of routines. You can turn down the lights and get ready to unwind for the night.
Will car manufacturers give Samsung the keys to their cars?
Unlike other smart infotainment systems, which are primarily aimed at making it safer to use your phone in the car, Samsung's effort is focused on making it easier to monitor and use your smart home devices while in the car. The other side of it is it wants to bundle your car in with all the other smart devices in your life. So in the same app you control your lights, vacuum and washing machine in, you can control your car.
Pump the brakes
There are still plenty of questions to ask here. SmartThings in a car looks far more visually involved than other infotainment systems. Is it possible that it could be too distracting, even if Bixby is around to handle interactions? Will car manufacturers give Samsung the keys to their cars? Even further, what are the privacy and security implications of tying your car to your Samsung account?
This is still just a concept, and it's clear Samsung and Harman still have plenty of work to do and questions to answer before they can get this system in cars. It's going to be a long road, but it's also an exciting one.