If you need more proof that the DIY smart home market is ready to get big, then check this out—Samsung is reported to be buying the home automation company SmartThings.
The tip comes from TechCrunch, which doesn’t identify its sources, so there’s that, but according to the TC article Samsung is buying SmartThings for $200 million. That’s a bargain compared to Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest and Nest’s $555 million purchase of Dropcam. Another big acquisition was iControl’s purchase of BlackSumac, the company that makes Piper (Wi-Fi security camera with a built-in smart home hub).
You may recall, back in January Samsung had a small smart home display set up in the company’s massive CES exhibit. At the time the company was showing a controller and hub called the Lumen that communicated with various Internet-of-Things devices via Wi-Fi or Z-Wave. At the exhibit the system was integrating an air conditioner, a Wi-Fi LED light bulb, a security camera and a floor-cleaning robot (similar to a Roomba).
What does SmartThings bring to the situation for Samsung? SmartThings is a smart home hub that can integrate a whole assortment of devices such as light switches, door locks, Philips Hue colored smart bulbs, Sonos wireless music products, door sensors and more via Zigbee and Z-Wave and control it all with an app.
For Samsung, SmartThings offers the main brain for the system, basically replacing the somewhat clunky-looking Lumen device shown at CES (which, to be fair, was just a prototype). SmartThings offers a bunch of its own devices to connect to the system, but also pairs with many third party devices. Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, the similar Staples Connect system announced compatibility with Samsung Smart TVs, so I assume something similar will be/is in the works for the SmartThings platform (it better be).
Another synergy between the two companies is the smart phone. Samsung sells a ton of Galaxy Android phones and tablets—all potential interfaces for the SmartThings system. As the smart watch market grows (if it grows), this could add another layer of control for the system. Imagine if a Samsung smart watch acted as a built-in presence sensor, so the system always knew when you were home and could react accordingly by turning on the proper lights, setting the home temperature and turning off the security camera.
In addition to the smart phone/watch scenario, Samsung makes a ton of products that could benefit form added connectivity. The company’s Shape wireless speaker system (similar to Sonos), Wi-Fi appliances (fridges, washers, ovens), smart TVs and Blu-ray players, IP cameras and more could all be part of the SmartThings family.
We don’t know much of anything about this deal (or even if it will really happen), so it’s too early to tell if SmartThings products will become Samsung branded (I’d guess they would). Samsung’s retail network would give the products, and in fact the whole smart home category, a huge awareness boost.
One thing’s for sure, the Summer of Smart Home is still hot.
Grant Clauser is the technology and web editor for SSI‘s sister publication Electronic House. Grant has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He’s done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore.