Take a peek inside Samsung’s vast developer conference

20160427 samsung developer conference sdc sign
Stephen Lawson

Take a peek inside Samsung’s vast developer conference

Samsung kicked off its massive developer conference in San Francisco this week, where it's trying to get developers excited about its latest software, services and hardware

20160427 samsung mobile chief dj koh
Stephen Lawson

Looking for the next big thing

D.J. Koh, the new head of Samsung's mobile business, kicked off the show by saying Samsung is looking beyond phones to virtual reality, connected homes, wearables and cars.

20160427 samsung injong rhee
Stephen Lawson

Selling global reach

Samsung has a full stack of technologies from chips up through applications, plus global scale, said Injong Rhee, head of R&D software and services. That scale, with millions of devices deployed through carriers around the world, lets Samsung accomplish things small startups can't, he said.

20160427 samsung pay
Stephen Lawson

Samsung Pay is set to expand

One example of Samsung's global reach is Samsung Pay, which is already available in the U.S., Korea and China. The company announced that Samsung Pay will be rolled out in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Spain, the U.K., and other countries. Rather than a new technology such as NFC, it uses magnetic transmissions that mimic the swiping of a traditional credit card.

20160427 samsung connect auto
Stephen Lawson

Plugging into cars

Cars are one area where Samsung sees big opportunities for both itself and developers. The company demonstrated Samsung Connect, a device that can plug into hundreds of millions of cars already on the road, collect vehicle and driving data, and connect to the Internet over LTE. The device runs the Tizen OS and uses Samsung's Knox platform for data security.

20160427 samsung sdc curtis sasaki
Stephen Lawson

Artik is a cloud now, too

Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems, showed off Samsung's Artik hardware-software modules for the Internet of Things and announced the Artik Cloud. The service, a would-be rival to Microsoft's Azure and IBM's Bluemix, is designed as a place for companies to collect, store and analyze data from "anything with a digital heartbeat," he said.

20160427 samsung artik iot development board
Stephen Lawson

Hands on with IoT

Developers had a chance at the conference to play with Artik modules on developer boards, like the Artik 5 board shown here.

20160427 samsung otto robot
Stephen Lawson

Otto makes his debut

Among the devices on display using Artik was Samsung's Otto robot, which can answer questions and keep an eye on things with a built-in camera. Otto can turn its head and can swivel all the way around on its base. Samsung hasn't announced any plans to commercialize it.

20160427 vayyar walabot imaging sensor
Stephen Lawson

X-ray vision

Israel-based startup Vayyar showed off its Walabot imaging sensor. The device, which goes on sale this week, uses radio waves to detect hidden objects like wires behind walls. Vayyar demonstrated the Walabot with a gateway that's based on Artik, though it could use other hardware platforms, too.

20160427 eddi desalination artik iot system
Stephen Lawson

Artik powers a mini desalination plant

A group of developers calling themselves EDDI Currents showed off their EDDI water desalination machine, also based on Artik. It's designed to help farmers extract salt from the water they send into their fields, and it uses a more energy-efficient method than common systems in use today. An EDDI smartphone app can show the salinity of the water in real time.

20160427 samsung gear360 vr camera
Stephen Lawson

Gear 360 camera ready to roll

Developers also got to work with the Gear 360 consumer VR camera. At the show, Samsung announced the camera would go on sale Friday, though only in Singapore and South Korea. In Korea, it will cost 399,000 won (US$347). No U.S. price or ship date has been announced.

20160427 samsung vr demonstration
Stephen Lawson

Immersion's the name of the game

One highlight of the bustling show floor was a virtual reality demonstration area.

20160427 samsung wearable vr camera
Stephen Lawson

A 360-degree cam you can take with you

Several small groups from Samsung's Creative Lab demonstrated products in the early stages of development. Here, a Creative Lab developer shows off a mockup of a 360-degree video camera that users would wear around their necks to record daily life. The current model stores the video on a card that has to be unloaded later, but the plan is to use a wireless network.

20160427 samsung headset for helmets
Stephen Lawson

A new approach to headsets

One group of Creative Lab demonstrators demonstrated Ahead, a wireless audio headset for use with helmets. Ahead plays sounds by sending vibrations through the helmet rather than with earbuds, which can block out sounds from the outside. Even in its traditional technology fields, the company is looking for new approaches.