Samsung has announced that it will show off five experimental projects from its C-Labs group during the Samsung Developer Conference at Moscone West Center from April 27th to 28th in San Francisco. Among them is LiCon, an app that can recognize various IoT devices using a camera and download remote controls for them, plus a few other weird and wonderful gadgets.
The whole motivation behind LiCon is similar to that which lead Apple to develop HomeKit. Instead of having multiple IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices around the home using a different app for each one, LiCon turns your camera in to a single universal control.
For instance, you could have a smart connected thermostat, washing machine, vacuum cleaner or TV. With LiCon you could point your smartphone’s camera at the device, it then “utilizes vision-based recognition to identify the product” (think Google Goggles), then downloads a controller interface to display on screen.
Users can also take a photo of their device, then launch the specific app required, which might be useful if Samsung’s database is missing the remote controls.
As each user takes pictures, Samsung database grows and, in theory, helps the service become more useful and hopefully quicker.
Among the other four products is ‘Ahead’, which is essentially a magnetic-equipped Bluetooth speaker that attaches to your helmet, and doubles as a Push to Talk device (Walkie Talkie to you and me). This small triangular device attaches to any helmet using a strong magnet, and uses oscillators to create a surround sound effect that doesn’t block out background noise.
Samsung envisions this being used on building sites, on ski slopes or even on the football field, where awareness of your surroundings and any risks is essential, but you still want the ability to listen to music or take calls. What’s more, the PTT function will allow your foreman or coach to send you direct instructions.
Perhaps the weirdest of Samsung’s C-Labs gadgets is the AMe, a 360-degree life-logging camera that you wear around your neck. It’s essentially a necklace with three cameras built in. It records 360-degree footage in 4k resolution which can then be stitched together using the bespoke AMe app, where they can also be geo-tagged and shared on various social media channels.
Along with those, there’s the ItsyWatch smartwatch app which turns everyday tasks like exercising and eating in to games for kids and currently runs on the Gear S2.
Finally, there’s the Entrim 4D+ earphone set which somehow sends specific electrical messages to the nerves in your ear so that VR feels more real. In Samsung’s words, it “synchronizes your body with changing movements in VR content”. While it may sound stomach churning, Sammy says it decreases motion sickness that often comes with VR content.
So there we have it, five really unusual products that will have to work hard to convince me of the purpose for their existence. Still, it’s nice to see Samsung be so openly wacky and experimental.