Samsung eyes home control with smart TVs

South Korean tech giant Samsung has dominated the living room with its range of smart televisions and now, it wants to take over the whole home with its new TV models for this year.

Running on SmartThings, a new open-source platform that Samsung acquired in 2014, Samsung's new TVs will now be able to power and take control of networked devices within the home, and monitor appliances from a central location.

This would enable a user to, for example, view a live video feed of visitors at the front door from a connected video camera to the TV.

The home owner can then remotely unlock the door to let visitors in.

Home owners can also have the TV automatically dim the surrounding networked lights in the room or home.

All these connected items are part of a recent Internet of Things or IoT trend that loosely refers to "things" such as electronics that are able to communicate with one another, share data and be remotely controlled within an existing infrastructure.

Currently, there are more than 200 SmartThings-compatible devices in the market that can be linked to the new TVs, from door sensors and home theatre systems to home video cameras and motion detectors.

"I have been waiting for a technology where I can sit back on my couch, and as I'm watching TV, when a commercial comes, I can check on the settings, said Mr Bill Lee, Samsung's vice-president of product marketing, television.

"We're excited to offer shoppers this option," he said, prior to the global announcement today, a day before the start of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The show attracts about 150,000 people each year from industry leaders to hardcore gadget enthusiasts. Over 3,600 exhibitors take part in it.

While Samsung TVs' IoT features have taken centre stage, it has not left out other technological improvements on its new TVs.

A new social feature allows four Samsung smartphones to share content on one TV at the same time, and TV owners can even use their Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch to control the TV.

Several high-end 4K ultra high definition 2015 Samsung TV models introduced High Dynamic Range, or HDR, with brightness of between 600 and about 1,000 nits.

A nit is a measurement of brightness and the higher the number, the brighter the display.

This year, all of Samsung's 4K TVs, which will be powered by Samsung's Tizen operating system, will have display brightness of at least 1,000 nits, in support of HDR.

Most TV and smartphone displays are between 350 and 500 nits.

Still, some new features, such as the TV's ability to stream video games though Sony's PlayStation Now video game streaming service, without the need for a PlayStation game console, will only be available in the United States as it will not be launched in Asia.

Other TV brands are also expected to announce a new slew of TVs during CES, with much of the emphasis on new, richer and more intense HDR features.

Though existing HDR content is limited, content provider Amazon has started producing HDR shows for its Amazon Instant Video streaming service.

This article was first published on January 6, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.