Take a peek inside Samsung’s vast developer conference
Samsung kicked off its massive developer conference in San Francisco this week, where it's trying to get developers excited about its latest software, services and hardware
Looking for the next big thing
D.J. Koh, the new head of Samsung's mobile business, kicked off the show by saying Samsung is looking beyond phones to virtual reality, connected homes, wearables and cars.
Selling global reach
Samsung has a full stack of technologies from chips up through applications, plus global scale, said Injong Rhee, head of R&D software and services. That scale, with millions of devices deployed through carriers around the world, lets Samsung accomplish things small startups can't, he said.
Samsung Pay is set to expand
One example of Samsung's global reach is Samsung Pay, which is already available in the U.S., Korea and China. The company announced that Samsung Pay will be rolled out in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Spain, the U.K., and other countries. Rather than a new technology such as NFC, it uses magnetic transmissions that mimic the swiping of a traditional credit card.
Plugging into cars
Cars are one area where Samsung sees big opportunities for both itself and developers. The company demonstrated Samsung Connect, a device that can plug into hundreds of millions of cars already on the road, collect vehicle and driving data, and connect to the Internet over LTE. The device runs the Tizen OS and uses Samsung's Knox platform for data security.
Artik is a cloud now, too
Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems, showed off Samsung's Artik hardware-software modules for the Internet of Things and announced the Artik Cloud. The service, a would-be rival to Microsoft's Azure and IBM's Bluemix, is designed as a place for companies to collect, store and analyze data from "anything with a digital heartbeat," he said.
Hands on with IoT
Developers had a chance at the conference to play with Artik modules on developer boards, like the Artik 5 board shown here.
Otto makes his debut
Among the devices on display using Artik was Samsung's Otto robot, which can answer questions and keep an eye on things with a built-in camera. Otto can turn its head and can swivel all the way around on its base. Samsung hasn't announced any plans to commercialize it.
Israel-based startup Vayyar showed off its Walabot imaging sensor. The device, which goes on sale this week, uses radio waves to detect hidden objects like wires behind walls. Vayyar demonstrated the Walabot with a gateway that's based on Artik, though it could use other hardware platforms, too.
Artik powers a mini desalination plant
A group of developers calling themselves EDDI Currents showed off their EDDI water desalination machine, also based on Artik. It's designed to help farmers extract salt from the water they send into their fields, and it uses a more energy-efficient method than common systems in use today. An EDDI smartphone app can show the salinity of the water in real time.
Gear 360 camera ready to roll
Developers also got to work with the Gear 360 consumer VR camera. At the show, Samsung announced the camera would go on sale Friday, though only in Singapore and South Korea. In Korea, it will cost 399,000 won (US$347). No U.S. price or ship date has been announced.
Immersion's the name of the game
One highlight of the bustling show floor was a virtual reality demonstration area.
A 360-degree cam you can take with you
Several small groups from Samsung's Creative Lab demonstrated products in the early stages of development. Here, a Creative Lab developer shows off a mockup of a 360-degree video camera that users would wear around their necks to record daily life. The current model stores the video on a card that has to be unloaded later, but the plan is to use a wireless network.
A new approach to headsets
One group of Creative Lab demonstrators demonstrated Ahead, a wireless audio headset for use with helmets. Ahead plays sounds by sending vibrations through the helmet rather than with earbuds, which can block out sounds from the outside. Even in its traditional technology fields, the company is looking for new approaches.