Samsung's Connect Home isn't out yet, but you might want to consider stocking up on companion SmartThings when it's on sale.
The idea of the smart home isn't anything new. Technology companies have been attempting to sell us on the idea for quite a few years, though it's only recently that the idea of a souped-up home has become the norm. And even though the idea of converting your house into something less dumb can seem cost-prohibitive, Samsung hopes it can convince you that it's not.
Last week, I had the opportunity to take a glimpse inside Samsung's vision for the smart home. The company outfitted a three-story dwelling in San Francisco with the yet-to-be-release Connect Home Wi-Fi mesh networking system, in addition to various SmartThings sensors placed throughout. Obviously, its vision of the future is outfitted with Samsung-branded stuff, but that wasn't the point of the demonstration. Rather, it was to show that Samsung is positioning itself in the connected home sphere as the attractive, easy-to-use alternative to everything else.
Starting with routers that blend in
If you ask almost anyone what they think about routers, the answer is typically meh. For the most part, home networking gadgets are designed in a utilitarian, almost brutalist matter, which is why they're often hidden away or tucked behind other things or walls. This contributes to bad connections, however, thus keeping the router from doing what it was intended for in the first place.
To avoid being behind placed behind a door, Samsung designed the Connect Home networking system so that each node blends in with your things, regardless of which design era they're destined for. Granted, the Connect Home isn't the first attractive Wi-Fi mesh network on the market — we already have Google WiFi and Eero. But those two mesh routing systems also don't have Samsung SmartThings compatibility baked in.
Samsung is also hawking the Connect Home Wi-Fi system as the powerhouse behind its SmartThings ecosystem, essentially small sensors and plugs you can buy to convert things like the light fixtures or the TV into connected products.
The inclusion of SmartThings in the Connect Home router were obviously added in an effort to increase SmartThings adoption, but is that so bad? SmartThings aren't as well known in the mainstream as some other smart home gadgets, like the Philips Hue Lightbulbs or Ring Doorbell. But by baking it into the mesh routers, users might be more inclined to try them out. After all, who doesn't like the idea of making the light come on when you step into a room? The SmartThings sensors and plug-ins aren't too expensive either, as most retail between $20 to $50.
An easy app
Once you've connected things to the SmartThings, you can automate them all with the Samsung Connect app. The app works right now with all of the available SmartThings sensors and plugs, but it will also help connect the Connect Home router to any respective sensors placed throughout the home — this also means you won't need a seperate SmartThings Hub to make things work. You'll be able to easily set up formulas as you see fit from the app and all they require is a bit of "if this then that" configuration.
We won't know the true range or performance of the Connect Home and Connect Home Pro (intended for larger setups) until they officially debut on July 2. But for now, we know Samsung has lofty goals for the smart home space. Perhaps the inclusion of SmartThings in its Wi-Fi mesh networking router could even help increase awareness of the fact that the "Internet of Things" exist in the first place.