The smart speaker market is in a bit of flux. From Canalys’ latest numbers, it does seem to be growing and yet, at the same time, other brands are left in the dust of Amazon’s lead. It might not be an opportune time for Samsung to finally launch its long-overdue Galaxy Home smart speaker, especially considering how Bixby is practically dead in the water. If, however, the Galaxy Home Mini does launch soon with this feature, it could have an advantage no other smart speaker has.
Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, now Google Nest Home, aren’t just smart because they can answer your questions. Part of their selling factor is that they can control other smart devices and appliances connected to your home network. But that really only works for devices that are able to connect directly to Wi-Fi or indirectly via smart plugs.
Not all appliances do and it might be expensive to buy smart plugs for each and every one of them. Many appliances, however, do have infrared receivers for good old fashioned remote controls. In fact, there might be too many of them that do, which is why universal remotes became en vogue for a time.
It turns out, the Galaxy Home Mini will practically act like one. The company revealed at its Bixby Developer Day in Korea that its smart speaker will have four IR blasters and receivers to be able to communicate with such “offline” appliances in any direction. Of course, IR is limited in range and line of sight but it could still be a big advantage compared to juggling half a dozen remote controls or even just one universal remote with dozens of buttons.
How that will work is, of course, still unknown, just as the launch of the speaker is still unknown. The Galaxy Home Mini surprisingly appeared last month at Samsung’s Developers Conference even while the original and larger Galaxy Home remains absent. Judging by the attention the Mini version is getting, it might be the first and only smart speaker that Samsung will launch anyway.