Finally, Samsung has put the TV at the heart of its smart home

The idea of ​​your living room TV being a central place to connect, control, and manage your smart home is one that I think has been a long time coming. It seems that Samsung may be the first to reach this goal.

Samsung has been slowly adding smart home features to its TVs, turning them into hubs for its SmartThings home automation platform, adding Matter control capabilities so any Matter device can connect to them, and recently turning its latest TVs into routers with borders Thread. All of this means you can use your TV to connect to and control smart devices like lights and locks without needing a separate hub. This week at CES, Samsung revealed how to turn the largest screen in your home into a real smart screen.

A new dashboard display called Now Plus is coming to its TVs. This will trigger when you get close to the TV — so you don't need to get out the remote — and will display cards with information about your smart home devices, like your home's camera feed, indoor temperature, and how much time is left on the TV. washing machine. Information cards look similar to the way an Echo Show or Google Nest hub smart display displays relevant information on always-on displays.

There's also a new quick panel that gives you access to functions, including turning on the lights and locking the doors. This seems like a huge improvement over just displaying a version of the SmartThings app on your TV screen, which is how you can currently control SmartThings devices on a Samsung TV.

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Samsung is also introducing a new, more intuitive interface for the TV. Its map view can now be accessed on TV, and it is rolling out this smart home interface more widely across its platform. The map view is similar to Amazon's new Map View interface (although… Samsung version came first). The SmartThings Map View displays your connected gadgets on an interactive map chart where you can control devices like lights and locks in real time and monitor security cameras and energy usage.

The map view must be created in the SmartThings app on your phone or tablet, but you can then check or control the status of every room and smart device in your home on your TV and from the Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator screen. also. It's also available on Samsung M8 displays.

The SmartThings map view gives you an interactive 3D layout of your home and allows you to control connected devices.
Image: Samsung

The map view is also getting new AI characters that can imitate family members and even pets, as well as new ways to create a map of your home.

Amazon's version of Map View requires a lidar-equipped iPhone to scan your home, but Samsung says it's able to create a floor plan using just your address (we're not clear on how this works), or you can take a photo of your home. You have an existing floor plan, and SmartThings will convert it into 3D.

Ballie from Samsung is a BB-8-esque home robot.
Image: Samsung

Another option is to use a lidar-equipped Samsung device — such as the new JetBot robot vacuum or the Ballie AI robot — and send the robots to scan the house and create a floor plan. According to Samsung, Ballie can place your smart devices in the right place in your home.

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What is Bali, you ask? Well, Ballie is Samsung's mobile home robot, which was launched to much fanfare at CES 2020 but hasn't been seen since. It looks like the round robot ball might be back at CES 2024. I'm very excited to see the little yellow guy rolling around on the floor in Vegas this week.

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