Lee Jui Siang, President, Samsung Electronics Singapore.
Smart devices, smart homes, smart cities...what is smart living to you?
Smart living is essentially about harnessing technology to add control, connectivity and convenience to our everyday lives. Whether we’re looking at smart living from a macro lens in terms of national infrastructure and organisational evolutions, or a micro lens in terms of the individual’s activities, this innovation aims to seamlessly inject technology into our lives where technology can serve to simplify tasks.
One good example is Samsung Connect, which is the medium that allows products to “speak” the same language, presenting users with a single point of control. Imagine a smart home programmed to complement your living habits; knows what appliances to turn on when you step in and what appliances to switch off when you are ready for bed. Today, this imagination is a reality that comes to life and the possibilities are endless.
How does Samsung play into this future?
We are accelerating the realization of the Samsung smart home vision. SmartThings Cloud announced at this year’s Samsung Developer Conference will unite all our IoT clouds into a single powerful platform. This will be an open ecosystem, ready to work with not only Samsung devices, but a wide range of connected devices. Another important announcement is Bixby 2.0. Bixby will act as the controlling platform of your connected device ecosystem, including mobile phones, TVs and even home appliances to make the smart home experience even smarter.
The Samsung Connect app is already available to control a number of devices and appliances whether you’re at home or out of the house. Samsung has committed that by 2020, all Samsung devices will leverage connectivity. In preparation for the full-fledged smart home era, Samsung has been spearheading the standardization of global IoT technologies as a core member of the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). The OCF certification is a standard for compatibility between the products of member companies, strengthening connectivity so that different kinds of devices may communicate effectively with one another. Apart from Samsung, more than 390 companies have joined the OCF.
But, do people really need smart washing machines and fridges? How do these technologies actually help improve quality of life?
The purpose and aim of developing smarter technologies is to provide consumers with more versatility for products to adapt to their lifestyles, granting them seamless connectivity across the Samsung ecosystem. It’s about showcasing the integrated benefits of our entire portfolio, instead of just calling out individual products. We are fortunate to be in a unique position to drive the trend of technological convergence and the IoT conversation thanks to our diverse range of product categories, wellrounded innovations and the adoption of an agile and open ecosystem.
Take the Family Hub refrigerator for example, our vision is to evolve Family Hub into an IoT control center, to the point where users will be able to control all of their home’s connected appliances through voice recognition. Just imagine being able to summon your robotic vacuum to clean up the kitchen or monitor your laundry cycle while you cook.
When tasks become less of a chore and can be completed more efficiently, users can sit back and enjoy a book accompanied by a glass of wine instead of having to walk to the washing machine with every other page turn just to check if the laundry is completed.
"By 2020, all Samsung devices will leverage connectivity."
What are companies like Samsung doing to make sure the IoT landscape is safe?
Security is on top of everyone’s minds, especially in this day and age of an increasingly more connected digital space. Our commitment to ensuring security for our consumers is best exemplified through our award winning and defence-grade security platform – Samsung Knox.
Samsung Knox provides consumers, businesses and any other users of our products, a secure means to encrypt their confidential and sensitive data. For our devices equipped with Samsung Knox, its protection runs right to the core, all the way to the chip of the device, providing the best form of protection against unwanted intrusions. Samsung Knox is also designed with cross-platform interoperability, supporting over 120 enterprise mobility management providers worldwide, compatible with both Android and Samsung Tizen operating systems.
In Singapore specifically, Samsung collaborated with Singtel for some smart home solutions. Could we talk a little more about this and how SmartThings will come into play?
We have great synergies with Singtel as both of us share a vision to enhance our customers’ daily lives with technology. Our smart lock and camera provided the security component in the Singtel Smart Home solution rolled out last year. With this successful collaboration in place, we look forward to deepening our partnership with the launch of the Samsung Connect Home mesh Wi-Fi system very soon.
The Connect Home also doubles as a hub, connecting all Samsung and third-party smart home devices to the Wi-Fi, Z-wave and Zigbee networks. Consumers will be able to control a variety of home appliances and devices remotely — like security system, locks, kitchen appliances, TVs, speakers and more — with SmartThings.
The Samsung Connect Home device gives consumers the option for a more connected home and lifestyle, allowing them to harness our technologies to control aspects of their lives such as checking if the lights/stove has been switched off at home when they are out at work.
"We want to challenge ourselves to spark breakthroughs in efficiency within the industry."
What’s your view on Singapore’s progress in terms of Smart Nation initiatives?
Singapore is well placed to achieve success with our Smart Nation initiatives. We have the technological infrastructure and the government is firmly supporting the actualization of a Smart Nation. Singaporeans are exposed to technology from a young age and are among early adopters of new innovations. Furthermore, companies in Singapore are also quick to embrace the benefits of digital connectivity. Singapore has strong fundamentals for a Smart Nation and I believe once adoption rate picks up, it will quickly accelerate.
Samsung is also playing our part in contributing to a Smart Nation. One example is our collaboration with NYP in developing smart solutions for the F&B industry, we hope to allow those in the industry to focus on the service and skilled aspect of their scope instead of having to worry about backend issues and faulty technologies. We want to free chefs so that they can do what they do best in whipping up delicious dishes. We want to put a smile on the faces of service staff so that they can focus on the diners.
We value the future of our society and aim to bring out all of the potential in our younger generation, which is why this collaboration hopes to bring students, developers, solution architects and industry experts together to refresh our country’s F&B operations.
Mobile payment is another example of a Smart Nation initiative that is gaining traction. We have seen greater adoption for Samsung Pay among consumers and merchants since its launch in Singapore in June 2016. While previously consumers were concerned about the security of mobile payment, they are now acknowledging that biometric authentication like iris scanner and fingerprint, together with digital tokenisation and Samsung Knox contribute to making Samsung Pay even more secure than traditional payment modes.
What’s the most important thing you personally want to see happen in a smart city?
I believe a true Smart Nation is one where the community at large is enabled and empowered because we are extracting the maximum benefits of technology. Seamless connectivity would be the key buzzwords where technology seamlessly transports smart technologies across all levels of infrastructure from the home to the office or school, during commute and while at leisure activities.
As the population ages, a key Smart Nation benefit is where technology is infused into the healthcare system for Singaporeans to have better management of their health and for healthcare providers to offer outstanding care.
BY ZACHARY CHAN PHOTOGRAPHY DARREN CHANG ART DIRECTION ORLAND PUNZALAN