Interview with Samsung VP Jaeyeon Jung on the new Galaxy SmartTag and how it fits into the SmartThings ecosystem, which as of December had 66M active users — While the Apple world waits patiently for an “AirTags” announcement, Samsung is already shipping its remote location device, the Galaxy SmartTag.
It’s great to have Samsung’s SmartTags on hand to help you find lost items, but they’re not the only thing they can do
Samsung’s SmartTags are part of Samsung’s SmartThings platform, a home-automation ecosystem that offers a wide range of applications, from controlling a smart home to controlling a car, and more.
Samsung is already shipping its remote location device, the Galaxy SmartTag, a device that can be used as a remote location device while the Apple world is patiently awaiting the announcement of AirTags. Using an app, you can track the location of valuable objects like coins, passports, luggage, and valuables that are tucked into a suitcase or backpack via a little device that attaches to your keyring or slips into a bag or suitcase.
As Samsung’s vice president and head of its SmartThings team, Jaeyeon Jung, recently explained to me, SmartTags are part of Samsung’s SmartThings home automation platform, and the location tracking devices are best understood within the context of Samsung’s SmartThings ecosystem, which is best comprehended within the context of SmartThings. It is also a good way to understand how a SmartTag differs from Apple’s rumored AirTags if we take a look at how they differ from SmartTags.
Interestingly, Jung explains that as of late, the open nature of SmartThings has attracted a great deal of attention from automotive brands because of the open APIs and tools of the platform. As well as the ability to use their own voice assistant to control the car, smart-home devices and other devices, the platform also has the ability to integrate with other smart-home devices as well. The automotive industry is focused on creating their own voice assistant experience as part of their brand positioning, Jung explains. With this desire, Google Assistant and Alexa are more likely to compete against Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, both of which want to promote their products.
Samsung announced in October 2020 that Mercedes-Benz AG, a German automobile manufacturer, would be joining the SmartThings ecosystem with the launch of the Mercedes-Benz S Class, its newest luxury automobile. There was already a voice assistant feature in the Mercedes automobile that would respond to a command such as “Hey Mercedes” in which it was able to change the temperature of the car when you said you were cold or hot. As an example, it may even provide you with directions to the nearest Starbucks if you say you want a cup of coffee from there
‘Hey Mercedes’ is now going to be smarter than ever as SmartThings will allow you to control your home from your car and shut the lights off, lock the doors, adjust the thermostat, set your alarm, and close the garage door all with a single voice command,” Jung says.
It was hard not to ask about Bixby, Samsung’s own voice assistant, when we were having this conversation about voice assistants. Bixby is one of the most important voice assistant partners for SmartThings, and it is an integral part of Samsung’s devices through the SmartThings system. Although, SmartThings’ ecosystem provides consumers with a variety of options when it comes to assistants, and they’ll have a choice between Google Assistant and Alexa in the SmartThings ecosystem, which is exactly what the ecosystem offers them.
This is a natural evolution of the Samsung SmartThings Find feature, which Samsung introduced almost two years ago, the Galaxy SmartTag and the Galaxy SmartTag Plus. With this feature, users will be able to locate selected Galaxy smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and earbuds using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ultra-wideband (UWB) technologies.
SmartThings Find is an opt-in network powered by Galaxy devices that works in similar fashion to Apple’s Find My Device service. SmartThings Find allows users to locate misplaced devices using an opt-in network. A Samsung device will produce a BLE signal once it has been offline for 30 minutes. During that time period, other Samsung devices are able to receive this signal. A device that picks up this signal communicates its location to a Samsung server, which in turn notifies the owner of the lost device that it has been picked up by the signal. In addition to the encryption and security of all SmartThings Find user data, Samsung ensures that that no one else, including Samsung, except the device owner, has access to the device’s location.
The SmartTags in their current form are Samsung’s biggest step so far in its journey since it bought SmartThings in 2007, which was then a high-profile startup that was being acquired by Samsung. Jung believes that SmartThings has come a long way from what it was a few years ago when it was just a hub and some sensors in your house. “We remain committed to the same mission with the platform today as when we acquired the company in 2014 when we acquired the platform. The goal of our company is to provide our customers with a rich, helpful, and secure experience when it comes to their connected homes.
There were 66 million active users of SmartThings as of December 2020, up from 52 million active users at the beginning of the year. It is in part because of the pandemic that connected TVs and appliances have become more popular. Several studies have shown that people tend to reassess their technology needs as they spend more time at home and engage in a greater variety of activities as they spend more time at home.
As Jung points out, SmartThings is a success because of the open nature of Samsung’s ecosystem, which has been built over the past couple of years. There are many opportunities for our partners to make use of SmartThings, not limited to just the home in which it is installed. Samsung’s SmartThings platform is capable of delivering a unique experience across Samsung’s entire product range, and we don’t limit the value that can be derived from it to just that.”