At the digital Consumer Electronics Show 2021 on Monday, Samsung introduced its newest products for the smart home. Some come from the automotive industry while others come from a prior acquisition but all are intended to make “a better normal for all”, according to the company.
Samsung first showcased its Samsung SmartThings Kitchen line. In its pre-recorded presentation, Samsung showed off its smart fridge, a product that typically doesn’t pique my interest. I’ve never felt the need for the Samsung Family Hub display on an appliance that keeps my food from spoiling. Now I see a need.
This year, the display can show custom recipes from Samsung’s SmartThings Cooking service, powered by Whisk AI. Samsung Next bought Whisk AI, and this is the result.
The fridge will suggest personalized recipes based on your preferences, even showing step-by-step video preparation instructions. Of course, if you have Samsung appliances that can “talk” to each other, this service can also automatically pre-heat your oven, for example. And shopping items needed for the recipes can easily be added to a companion app or requested for delivery from Walmart, Kroger, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh, using the Whisk network.
Stacey talked about this future in November with Nick Holzherr, head of product for Whisk at Samsung Next.
This is a smarter use of that display Samsung has been pushing on its refrigerator line for several years. Displays and information are fine, but “smarts” make the experience smarter.
Speaking of smarter, there were no silly little home robots this year, which Samsung has used at prior CES events. This time there were two actually useful ones, a new smart vacuum, and a still-in-development home helper robot to give you an extra hand.
Like other recently announced autonomous vacuums, the JetBot 90 AI+ takes some of its parts from the automotive market. Specifically, this vacuum has a LIDAR sensor, allowing it to recognize objects and navigate around them automatically. It boasts 30W of suction power, so this isn’t like the original Roomba; I had that model and I’ll just say it: The sucking of dirt simply sucked.
After the floor is clean, Samsung’s robot vac automatically returns to its “Clean Station” and dumps its contents into a bag for easy trash removal. Samsung says users only need to replace the bag every two to three months.
Of course, if you have a Samsung phone or the Samsung SmartThings app, you get some extra benefits. There you can set “no-go zones” to keep the vacuum out of certain rooms, remotely start a vacuum cycle or use the vacuum’s webcam to peek in on your pets at home.
While all of that sounds nice, I’m most interested in the Samsung Bot Handy, which the company offered a sneak peek at on Monday.
This roving robot has a central tower with a small display and sensors atop. That tower can move up or down as needed. Why would it need to? Because attached to it is a robotic arm with a gripper attachment. Samsung says the Bot Handy is like a third hand in the home: It can identify objects, carefully grab them and then place them in appropriate locations.
As this product is still in the works all we really got to see were canned videos that may or may not be possible with the Samsung Bot Handy. The company showed the smart device grabbing dishes from a table and then placing them in a dishwasher. And it picked up some clothing draped over a chair and dropped it in the hamper.
Samsung says thanks to advanced AI, the Bot Handy “will be able to tell the difference between the material composition of various objects, utilizing the appropriate amount of force to grab and move around household items and objects.”
That’s great but the question is: With the sensors and smarts inside, will the Handy Bot come pre-programmed to handle such tasks or will consumers have to teach this robot to be handy?
Like many product details at CES events, that’s something that won’t likely be answered until later this year. That’s also when we’ll hear about pricing and availability for all of Samsung’s smart home products, although the JetBot 90+ is expected to go on sale in the first half of 2021.