Samsung unveiled a new Tizen Smart TV UX with SmartThings IoT hub connectivity and a universal remote, while Roku announced 4K smart TVs.
We still prefer the flexibility of combining a dumb TV with smart devices rather than buying a smart TV, but the latter are becoming more compelling as they add increasingly sophisticated Linux-based GUIs, connectivity options, and OTA updates. A year ago at the Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung announced that all of its 2015 Smart TVs would run Tizen Linux. Prior to this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, the Korean CE giant made a number of Tizen-related smart TV announcements, including plans to bake SmartThings home automation hub capability into all of its 2016 Smart TVs.
Samsung 2016 Smart TV
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Samsung also introduced a new Tizen-based Smart TV user experience (UX) with SmartThings support, as well as a Tizen-based universal remote. Another announcements include a new “Gaia” smart TV security solution and a “Family Hub” smart refrigerator with SmartThings hub support.
Roku Smart TV
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The Samsung announcements were the first of numerous smart TV launches expected at CES from rivals like LG, with its WebOS-based products. Roku, for example, announced that its smart TV hardware partners had collectively shipped over a million smart TVs with its Linux-based Roku stack, which most recently appeared on a 4K-ready Roku 4 media player. Roku also said that partners like Haier, Hisense, Sharp, and TCL will launch about 60 new Roku TV models in 2016. TCL will be the first to launch the first 4K UHD Roku TV model in late 1Q 2016, and others will follow later in the year.
Samsung bakes SmartThings, Tizen into Smart TVs
All of Samsung’s 2016 Smart TVs will combine Tizen with SmartThings home automation hub functionality. Samsung says it “developed its own IoT hub technology with SmartThings for 2016 SUHD TVs,” so it’s unclear if the SmartThings hub itself will move to Tizen. Last year, Samsung subsidiary SmartThings upgraded its hub from an RTOS to a generic Linux implementation.
With the new connected smart TVs, users can use either a mobile device interface or a TV interface to check up on the more than 200 connected devices that now support SmartThings. Devices are said to include lights, locks, thermostats, cameras, speakers, appliances, and sensors.
As noted in the SmartThings version of the announcement, the hub integration will enable users to do things like check on an outdoor camera to see who rang the bell, or view motion sensor alerts that pop up on the TV screen. There’s also a SmartThings Cinema Mood that lets you automatically adjust ambient lighting surround sound and other features for the “perfect home theater environment.”
With the new smart TVs, there’s no need to buy the hub, which several months ago began shipping as part of a SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit. The kit also provides a motion sensor, a smart electrical outlet for controlling lights and other gizmos, and two multipurpose sensors.
SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
The SmartThings integration is part of a new Samsung user interface that promises to let users “switch seamlessly between broadcast content, OTT content, as well as other connected devices, including video game consoles or Blu-ray players,” says Samsung. The interface is also more customizable, letting you arrange favorite content on the home screen, says the company.
The new UX works hand in hand with a new, Tizen-based universal Samsung Smart Control that features automatic source recognition. The remote is said to immediately recognize set-top boxes, OTT boxes, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and other connected devices.
Samsung’s 2016 Smart TVs will also feature a three-layer security solution called Gaia. The solution splits Tizen into two, adding a “Secure Zone” virtual container for core service operations. There’s also a virtual Secure Keypad/Number Pad for entering credit card information and passwords, and a public key for verifying personal information. In addition, Gaia encrypts important communications between the TV and “IoT service servers,” and features anti-malware protection.
Samsung says it will offer more than 400 streaming games and 100 downloadable games on its 2016 Smart TVs. Streaming games from PlayStation Now include Assassin’s Creed III, Batman: Arkham Origins, and The LEGO Movie Videogame. GameFly will also offer streaming games.
Samsung Family Hub
Smart fridge adds SmartThings support
Samsung Smart TVs won’t be the only CE devices to add SmartThings hub support. The company announced a Family Hub [translated] smart refrigerator aimed initially at the Korean market that is said to provide the capability via a dongle.
As reported by Engadget, the smart fridge has a 21.5-inch, 1080p touchscreen, as well as internal cameras so you can check on the contents of the fridge via a mobile app. Presumably, this is Tizen based, such as the models that have been demonstrated by Samsung since 2013, but few details were available.
Finally, Samsung unveiled a Samsung Bio-Processor for wearables. This MCU-based chip does not appear to run Linux, but it offers a DSP, eFlash memory, and a PMIC. The Bio-Processor also supports five analog front ends for bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), photoplethysmogram (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), skin temperature, and galvanic skin response (GSR). GSR sensors could be used with other sensors to track stress.