Thursday, 31 August 2017 07:22

Samsung promotes technology delivering life’s ‘new normal’ at IFA 2017

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When technology becomes so ubiquitous and advanced that it melts into the background of life and even becomes invisible, that’s the ultimate “new normal”, but before we get there, Samsung’s “new normal” is here.

In life, we can sometimes have technology reversals and regressions that bring us new normals we don’t want, like when companies deprecate features or dumb their products down, which we see from companies like Google with Google News, Microsoft with Windows 10, Samsung with some of the gesture-based features it offered with the Galaxy S4, and even Apple with its iWork suite.

Features that get removed can be restored, as Apple is progressively doing with iWork, Pages and Numbers, but more importantly and more excitingly is when new features are added to a system, device, app or OS, which Samsung is proudly boasting with its statement that it is “focusing on craftsmanship, clever connectivity and championing the impossible across its new products and service".

Thus does Samsung set out to shape life’s “new normal” as it uses its IFA 2017 stand in Berlin “to showcase its latest consumer products and innovative technology that are helping make the impossible tomorrow’s ‘new normal’.”

During its press conference, held at Tempodrom in Berlin, Samsung says it “highlighted its focus on the craftsmanship and connectivity of its products, along with partnerships that are enabling its technology to rapidly set new standards".

David Lowes, chief marketing officer for Samsung Europe, said: “Samsung’s innovation is inspired by consumers and designed to make an immediate difference. This innovation is based on craftsmanship, clever connectivity and championing the impossible. As technology increasingly plays a role in every part of our lives, we’re creating products and services that adapt to consumers and set the tone for what becomes their ‘new normal’.”

The big question I have at this point in time is whether it’s normal to have used the word normal so many times thus far, but let’s just keep powering on to find out more on what all of this new normal truly entails.

Samsung’s 'new lifestyle standards in visual display'

Samsung’s “The Frame” TV welcomed a new member to its existing 55- and 65-inch sizes, with a new 43-inch model launched to add to its range of “design-led TV experiences” that Samsung bills as “the ideal fit for the living room or other sized rooms in the home".

If you happen to be in Sydney, rather than Berlin, you still have time to visit Samsung’s “The Frame” exhibition in a special store-sized exhibition area near Myer at Pitt St Mall — details here — and you can even win a “The Frame” TV, but that experience ends 1 September, so you’d better hurry!

Anyway, Samsung notes its partnership “with leading galleries and museums such as the LUMAS, Saatchi Art, and Sedition to further enhance The Frame as an art-centric device within the home".

Samsung also announced a new partnership with “the Prado museum, as well as plans to acquire approximately 1000 prominent art pieces that can be enjoyed in The Frame’s Art Store in near future”, with owners of a The Frame TV able to “choose from an expanded selection of art, making the most of their TV even when it isn’t in operation".

In addition to the Art Store, Samsung proudly boasts its “Samsung Collection of specially curated art pieces and the My Collection feature allows consumers to project their own personal images onto the screen, giving consumers even more options to visually customise their space, wherever they choose to place The Frame within the home".

But that’s not all – there’s more. Samsung also “presented plans to expand the QLED TV line-up to Europe, as it continues to grow its leadership within the premium TV market".

The Q8F model, “a flat version of the curved Q8C model, will be launched in Europe in 55 and 65-inch sizes. This model will be a part of the largest TV line up in Europe, which consists of 14 full QLED TVs, in curved and flat models, ranging from 49-inch to an ultra-large 88-inch".

And, to further amplify its premium line of QLED TVs, Samsung says it has “also entered into a partnership with Panasonic and 20th Century Fox to proliferate HDR 10+ technology. In the months to come, Samsung will continue to expand partnerships to include Hollywood studios, content providers, and game developers”, which as you can appreciate, sounds highly dynamic.

There’s still more, with Samsung also introducing “the world’s largest QLED gaming monitor – the CHG90, which measures 49- inches, with a 178-degree ultra-wide viewing angle".

This monitor “offers a full and immersive view of gaming action, expanding the visual capabilities of a gaming monitor without sacrificing speed".

Next up is Samsung’s 'craftsmanship for meaningful innovation in appliances'

Samsung explains that its new home appliances introduced at IFA 2017 are “designed with a single aim in mind: to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives with brilliant innovations they come to rely on".

An example given is of “the need to design around real-life problems was displayed with the launch of Samsung’s new washing machine with QuickDrive technology”, which we’re told “cuts washing time by half and energy use by 20%, offering consumers the time-saving solution, without compromising washing performance".

Fitted with what Samsung says is a “unique Q-Drum”, it consists of a “large main drum and a plate in the back that rotates independently".

This differs from “conventional washers that move clothes repeatedly up and down over the course of the cycle”, as the QuickDrive “moves clothes from top to bottom in the drum but with an added dimension".

You see, the plate in the back of the drum introduces “a back and forth movement, making a dynamic action powered by double forces that quickly and gently remove dirt to deliver an intense and complete wash cycle".

This back and forth movement almost sounds like the intensity Daenerys and Jon were exhibiting in the Season 7 finale, but in the final wash, I’m sure Samsung’s mind and wash cycle are on cleaner things.

Now, if you remember, Samsung introduced an “innovative concept called AddWash at IFA in 2015, which allows users to add clothes to a washing machine during an active cycle".

The innovation here was for a front-loading drum, because most top-loaders have always been able to be opened up so something could be added mid-cycle.

Anyway, Samsung says that “QuickDrive takes this one step further by offering a new level of convenience and performance. This is the type of technology that Samsung says will eventually become the “new normal – technology we soon will be unable to live without".

I was expecting Samsung to announce a specific new feature like AddWash here, but still, better performance and more convenient operation is nothing to be sneezed at. Any sneezing exhibited would surely be involuntarily in any case, I don’t know of a single person who can genuinely sneeze on command. I mean, anyone can fake sneeze but… let’s get back to the article.

More on Samsung’s QuickDrive here

So, what else has Samsung launched appliance-wise at IFA?

Well, that would be the launch of the POWERstick PRO cordless vacuum cleaner. Promising “the ultimate cleaning solution”, Samsung says it “guarantees powerful cleaning performance, easy maintenance and a long-lasting battery".

Noting how the POWERstick PRO really sucks, it features “an industry-leading 150 watts of suction power and 40-minutes of battery time — twice as long as traditional batteries — with a battery lifespan of five years".

We are told it “also boasts Flex Handle that folds up to 50 degrees, letting users clean hard-to-reach spaces, such as the below furniture, with less effort".

More detail on the POWERstick PRO here

Want more? Of course you do!

Samsung has also announced it will “expand the voice capability of its Family Hub refrigerator to countries in Europe on a phased basis this year, starting with British English, German, French, and Italian. Family Hub will also be integrated with Samsung Connect, letting users control a wide variety of IoT-ready smart appliances regardless of their operating system".

Hey, just as long as my fridge doesn’t start telling me to put the ice cream back in the freezer, I’m all good with this one.

Then there’s Samsung’s 'cleverly connected for life on the move'

It turns out that Samsung is promoting a “new normal for wearable technology” as well, and it “isn’t just an activity tracker that counts your steps – it’s about enhanced connectivity to deliver an entire wellness manager and make our lives healthier".

Now, in an attempt to really push the boundaries of the new normality in wearables, Samsung hasn’t just released one new wearable, but three! Count ‘em! Unos Dos Tres!

First up is Samsung’s “versatile smartwatch, the Gear Sport”, which “takes on board the functionality that users want from a fitness gadget today".

Samsung says it is “packed with features for people who see no boundary between their life and their wellness. It includes built-in GPS, run-pacing features and nutrition tracking".

So far this all sounds pretty normal.

However, here comes the new – “with a focus on connectivity, the ever-growing connected ecosystem also brings about the need for more control. The Gear Sport can control the Samsung IoT-enabled devices, act as a remote control for a PowerPoint presentation or Samsung Gear VR, and pay for goods via Samsung Pay (NFC Only)".

Actually that sounds pretty normal too, maybe it’s new for Samsung devices, but as a tech journalist, maybe I’m just used to a lot of things that aren’t necessarily normal for other people.

So, let’s move on to new normal wearable two.

Here, we learn that Samsung has launched the “Gear Fit2 Pro – an advanced GPS fitness band".

It features a “beautifully curved 1.5” Super AMOLED display and is able to track various activities – whether on land or in the pool. For the new swimming capabilities, Samsung partnered with swimming expert Speedo to create Speedo On, the first Speedo wearable app that accurately tracks pool exercises".

Although swimming tracking has been a “new normal” for one of Samsung’s major competitors for a year now, the Gear Fit2 Pro does “everything from measuring the number of strokes or lap times, to tracking which stroke the user is doing is all possible on the 5ATM certified Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro with the Speedo app".

On top of that “daily activity can be supplemented with updated Under Armour and Spotify partnerships. Both devices provide access to fitness apps Under Armour Record, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep and fitness tracking functions – these apps provide users with a holistic picture of their health and fitness".

Third on the new normal wearables list is the Gear IconX, 2018 edition, and thus a 2nd-edition of Samsung’s “cord-free earbuds” which “complete the line-up of wearable devices launched by Samsung at IFA 2017".

More detail on all of these wearables here, and here's an image: 

Now we come to Samsung 'leading the standardisation of IoT technologies; convergence with HARMAN'

Samsung says it “has been leading the standardisation of global IoT technologies as a diamond member of the Open Connectivity Foundation".

To prove this, Samsung states is “the first in the industry to receive the OCF certification for its smart TVs, Family Hub refrigerators and air conditioners, and intends to expand the certification to all of its home appliances throughout the year".

We are told that the OCF certification will “allow for open compatibility between the different products of member companies. In addition to Samsung, more than 390 companies have joined the OCF, with 20 billion IoT products to be synchronised with the OCF standard in three years".

Let us hope they remembered security, lest we enter a world of the Internet of hackable and crackable things. No-one wants to be terrorised by their fridge or TV under the control of a nasty hacker, or the NSA, CIA or FBI, so we trust Samsung is placing security at the forefront of the Internet of Stuff, or we’re all stuffed.

Samsung also touts its “ongoing partnership with HARMAN” as also “fortifying its big picture for the new normal".

Following six months of partnership, Samsung says it is “now the global leader in connected car technology, with more than 50 million cars on the road worldwide powered by HARMAN and Samsung technology".

Presumably Apple CarPlay and Google with Android Auto want to dispute that, but we’ll leave it to those two companies to do that should they want to.

In any case, Samsung and harman’s “partnership is focused on creating audio and visual experiences that just a short while ago, would have been considered impossible".

An example is “Samsung’s new HDR LED screen for cinemas, measuring more than 10 meters or 34 feet across,” which “delivers unrivalled picture quality and is brought to life by the audio technology of HARMAN Professional Solutions, together with Samsung AudioLab".

Samsung and HARMAN promote their “powerful combination”, which they say “aims to reinvent both mobility and entertainment, taking the new and making it normal".

So, there you go. It’s normal, but new. Now you all have to do is bring the new normal into your life, so your life will be normally new, too!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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