Samsung's version of Chromecast will make your dumb home smarter


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Samsung wants Bixby to power your smart home, and it has a Chromecast-like dongle to make it happen.

The company unveiled an experimental dongle prototype called Project Ambience that turns “dumb” appliances and gadgets into Bixby-enabled smart home accessories.

During a demo onstage at Samsung’s Developer Conference in San Francisco, Samsung CTO Injon Rhee demoed how the Project Ambience dongle could be connected to televisions and speakers to turn them into Bixby-enabled smart devices.

The news follows an earlier announcement that Samsung would be integrating Bixby into its smart TVs and Family Hub refrigerator. But Project Ambience promises to make the process of getting Bixby into the home much easier, according to Samsung, since it can be connected to older, “dumb” devices. 

The dongle has its own Wi-Fi receiver and microphones built-in, so the devices it’s connected to don’t need to already have those capabilities. Project Ambience’s technology can also be embedded on a chip, Samsung says. Rhee said that the dongle could be about much more than connecting a TV or speaker in your home, too.

During his demo, he showed how a room filled with Ambience-connected objects, including a teddy bear, could essentially turn entire rooms into a connected smart home. When he gave the “Bixby” command, whichever device was nearest him recognized his voice and responded.

Ambience is just a prototype for now, so it’s not clear when it could launch, but Rhee said the technology was inexpensive compared to most smart home tech.

If and when it does launch, though, it could go a long way toward making smart home tech more accessible.

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