Samsung Electronics kicked off its second annual developer conference with a bevy of announcements intended to ignite enthusiasm around its software for its wearable, digital health, virtual reality and smart home solutions.
At a time when the world's No. 1 smartphone maker is feeling more pressure in the smartphone market than ever from up-and-coming Chinese rivals like Lenovo and Xiaomi, the conference serves as a way for Samsung to both refocus and broaden its ambitions to be more than just a hardware company.
Samsung remains largely dependent on its partner Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), the purveyor of the Android platform that runs the vast majority of Samsung's phones. Thus far, with the exception of a few smart watches, Samsung and its partners have yet to make a splash in the market with the open-source Tizen platform.
Yet Samsung is undaunted and wants to reach out to developers and get them excited about building apps for Samsung products and even non-Samsung gadgets, and developing new services. "We believe in open platforms and strong partnerships, because together we can better serve our consumers," Samsung Media Solutions President Won-Pyo Hong said in his opening remarks at the conference, according to Re/code.
The smartphone giant unveiled new developer tools and also highlighted partnerships with healthcare behemoth Kaiser Permanente, tennis-racquet maker Babolat and the Facebook-owned (NASDAQ: FB) virtual reality firm Oculus Rift to show developers how they can create new services with Samsung. "These are areas of opportunity for all of us," Hong said.
Here is a rundown of the key announcements so far from the conference:
- Samsung said it is continuing to push into the smart home, especially via its August acquisition of home automation platform SmartThings. Samsung introduced the beta release of its Smart Home SDK, which will allow customers who have appliances developed with the SDK to control them by using a Samsung Smart TV or smartphone. Further, the new SmartThings developer tools integrates with some of Samsung's most popular appliances like refrigerators and washing machines, and is intended to spur the development of an open smart home ecosystem of products and experiences.
- Samsung teased a new camera called "Project Beyond," which, as Engadget explains, is a 3D-capturing 360-degree camera that can capture videos and stream them on Samsung's Gear VR virtual reality headset, which was developed with Oculus. The camera (which apparently includes 16 full HD cameras) displays 360-degree panoramic views and captures everything in 3D, collecting a gigapixel of 3D data every second, according to Engadget. Project Beyond doesn't seem to be a final product, but rather an example of how Samsung is working to create immersive 3D content for the Gear VR.
- Samsung introduced "Proximity," which it terms a "mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology." Similar to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iBeacon technology, Samsung's Proximity tech can send information to a user from a store about offers and other products based on where they are in the store and what products are nearby. While iBeacon is enabled through Apple's App Store software, Proximity works on a system level and could provide tighter integration and more functionality for customers looking to market to customers.
- Samsung updated its Simband health tracker, which uses a variety of sensors to measure users' biometric data, including blood flow, EKG levels and skin temperature. Samsung then stores that health data on SAMI, its open and cloud-based database. Samsung said it improved the health band's sensor capabilities and algorithm accuracy, according to CNET. The Simband is not designed to be a consumer product but rather a reference platform, and Samsung released its API and SDK to developers for the technology.
- Samsung also introduced Flow, similar to Apple's Continuity feature with iOS 8, which Samsung said lets users continue or transfer tasks from one device to another. Users can open apps or tasks across smartphones and tablets and defer tasks from one device to another, according to CNET. Flow also allows notifications about one device to pop up on another.
- see this release
- see this Re/code article
- see these two separate Engadget articles
- see these two separate CNET articles
- see these two separate The Verge articles
- see these two separate GigaOM articles
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