Web Summit: Samsung’s smart, IoT-enabled home of tomorrow
With 300,000 employees and a revenue of over $210bn, Samsung Electronics is undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest technology companies, and Eun’s talk focused on an area where the full breadth of Samsung’s products can interact; the home.
Eun believes that we are on the cusp of a third phase of home technology. The first saw the introduction of refrigerators, microwaves and vacuum cleaners, though “each stood alone, serving a single mechanical purpose.” Continuing, Eun explained that “the second phase began more recently, connecting our devices and appliances to the internet, leveraging sensors and software to bring it all together, giving us what is now referred to as the connected home.”
Eun expects the current, second phase to be accelerated by technologies such as 5G. “With the advent of 5G, the percentage of connected devices in the home will continue to grow,” he said. “In the near future, the question won’t be, ‘how many devices are connected?’ The question will actually be, ‘how many devices are not connected?’” Another promising avenue sees technology migrating from palms to everyday objects. “The majority of voice assistants live on smartphones and speakers, today. But I believe, in the future, it’s conceivable that most every device and appliance will have voice assistance built in.”
The third phase, as Eun sees it, is built around “experiences”. “I believe that technology in the home is ready to undergo its own reinvention,” said Eun. “People want their devices to be more than just amazing connected things. They want them to be creators and enablers of experiences. This future is possible because the foundation of connected devices, along with new technologies, is bringing the digital and the physical worlds together.”
Samsung sees the potential of internet of things (IoT) technology in every room of the house. Regarding the kitchen, for instance, Eun said: “It’s a place that will intelligently provide everyone living in your home with the meal planning and preparation to enable a healthier and happier lifestyle. And these aren’t just kitchen appliances that simply store, cook and keep your food fresh. They will become your nutritionist, your personal chef, and your shopping assistant.” Of the bathroom, “It will be transformed into a wellness and health center, constantly checking in and sampling key health indicators of your overall well-being.”
It’s clear that Samsung is not alone in this endeavour, with Eun’s thinking around video being very similar to Facebook’s Portal product. “Think about the potential to bring video into the home in more immersive ways. Excited grandparents will now be able to experience their grandchildren’s first steps, no matter where they are.” Such synchronicity of thought demonstrates, perhaps, that the industry is indeed trending in the connected, smart home direction.
(Image: Web Summit)
Discord buys Sentropy to fight against hate and abuse online
Discord, a popular chat app, has acquired the software company Sentropy to bolster its efforts to combat online abuse and harassment. Sentropy, monitors online networks for abuse and harassment, then offers users a way to block problematic people and filter out messages they don’t want to see.
First launched in 2015 and currently boasting 150 million monthly active users, Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolkit and the company will also bring the smaller company’s leadership group aboard. Discord currently uses a “multilevel” approach to moderation, and a Trust and Safety (T&S) team dedicated to protecting users and shaping content moderation policies comprised 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
“T&S tech and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical safety, and moderators deserve better tooling to help them do one of the hardest jobs online more effectively and with fewer harmful impacts.”
Cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse
Redgrave elaborated on the company’s natural connection with Discord: “Discord represents the next generation of social companies — a generation where users are not the product to be sold, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and user safety are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends upon building next-generation Trust and Safety into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are humbled to work at the scale of Discord and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.”
Sentropy launched out of stealth last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse. The company emerged then with $13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his VC firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
“We are excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technology, and tools that we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” Redgrave said.