Samsung CEO BK Yoon kicked off the world’s biggest consumer technology tradeshow, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today by talking about how we are on the cusp of realising the Internet of Things (IoT)- if companies can collaborate and share data across industries.
‘Many people believe the IoT is something in the distant future- it’s not,’ said Yoon. ‘It’s not science fiction any more, it’s science fact. The age of IoT has already started.’
The Internet of Things is about to touch every aspect of people’s lives, said the Samsung boss, in a far greater way than the consumer electronics industry has so far. The world of driverless cars and other smart objects will completely change the way we as people interact with technology, so that it will automatically respond to our everyday needs, adapting to each person. It will make it cheaper and easier to run businesses, save energy and help drive economic activity.
The technology to achieve this kind of symbiosis with technology is here, said Yoon, but for this vision to be realised in the near future it will mean a radical adjustment for companies like Samsung.
As well as a big push for more energy efficient and compact devices, better processing power, more precise sensor technology and better internet connectivity, tech companies like his will have to embrace new business models based around collaboration and openness.
‘I know in my heart that neither one single company nor one industry alone can deliver the benefits of the Internet of Things,’ said Yoon. ‘To create this IoT universe, we have to see the potential of the Internet of Things across all kinds of industries. Only if we work together can we improve people’s lives.’
Alex Hawkinson, CEO of smart home platform Smart Things, which Samsung bought for $200 million last year, joined Yoon on stage to outline how this will all come together. By 2017, Samsung says 90% of its products will be IoT enabled devices, and in five years all Samsung hardware will be ‘IoT-ready.’
‘For the Internet of Things to be a success, it has to be open,’ said Hawkinson. ‘Any device, from any platform, must be able to connect and communicate with one another. We’ve worked hard to accomplish this, and are committed to putting users first, giving them the most choice and freedom possible. The SmartThings ecosystem is now compatible with more devices than any other platform.’
Certain devices will act as ‘hubs’ that can talk to your other devices, including non-Samsung gadgets. Yoon hinted at a host of new partnerships including Netgear, Jawbone, Honeywell and Philips who will soon be integrating their products and services into the ecosystem.