A look at Samsung's Smart Home, a central control system for your social appliances

Samsung Smart Home

We've covered a whole lot of Samsung smart appliances over the years: the fridge, the washing machine, even the window. Samsung might not have figured out how to work the window into your standard apartment yet, but it's taking a shot at unifying everything else with the Smart Home app, shown off for the first time at CES this year. The system is a centralized version of various individual apps, with some added Galaxy Gear integration. It's clean, it's futuristic, and to really take advantage of it, you'll need more internet-ready appliances than almost any human being will probably ever own.

The Smart Home system demoed at CES involved a robotic vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, washing machine, air conditioner, smart TV, and mounted camera — since the home was described as a New York apartment, these were all obviously in a single room. A handful of action profiles (coming home, going to sleep, and so forth) control sets of appliances; if you're going out, for example, the lights and air conditioner can turn themselves off and the vacuum can start cleaning. The Galaxy Gear recognizes these commands and responds to them, but for anything more fine-grained, you'll need to defer to the app. In addition to letting you turn individual appliances on and off, it'll give you a view of your home if you have a camera attached, and a "chat" mode is the equivalent of a remote control, offering a series of commands to start the washing machine, check the fridge temperature, and more.

How many Samsung appliances do you own, anyways?

The funny thing is that the Smart Home app will, in turn, open individual apps for even more options, which means there are essentially three layers of control depending on which device is giving or receiving commands. Since it seems to be in the early stages — Samsung is targeting the first half of 2014 — things could end up getting easier, and some of the current integration is pretty useful if you've got multiple Samsung appliances and want to check on them from outside the house. Unfortunately, if you've got a smart device of another brand, the Smart Home app won't help you right now, though it's supposed to start supporting non-Samsung products in the future.

Samsung is only one of many companies trying to make connected homes a reality over the past several years, and while its competitors don't have the same catalog of white goods, their products are often more platform-agnostic and take advantage of the wealth of locks, smoke detectors, and lights that have built-in connectivity. Fortunately, few people have a pressing need to automate their homes, so there's plenty of time to comparison shop.

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