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Samsung Sharpens Focus On Internet Of Things With $1.2 Billion U.S. Bet On Research And Startups

CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon touts IoT as assuring independence to 'millions of Americans' through connected devices that allow them to age in place.

Samsung will dish out $1.2 billion over the next four years for Internet of Things-related research and startups, solidifying the company's emphasis on the lucrative IoT market.

The investment, revealed Tuesday at a forum in Washington, D.C., will move IoT to the center of Samsung's strategy, and will focus on using connected devices for benefits to society, said Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman and CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon.

"At Samsung, putting people at the center of everything we do is our highest value. … The same must be true for IoT if we want to realize its full transformative power," said Kwon at the forum. "Today, IoT is changing individual lives -- helping people to age in their own homes. But tomorrow, using IoT, we can give the same independence to millions of Americans. We can keep people out of hospitals and nursing homes. As our populations live longer, these benefits and cost savings for society cannot be ignored."

[Related: Solution Providers Cheer Samsung Acquisition Of Joyent As Key To Deeper Focus On Software And Services]

Samsung’s investment will target Internet of Things applications with social benefits, such as digital health, smart machines and autonomous vehicles, according to the company.

Lee Drake, CEO of OS-Cubed, a Rochester, N.Y.-based solution provider, said the term "Internet of Things" is still vague -- but predicts that more connected devices will lead to opportunities in the future.

"The 'Internet of things,' like 'cloud computing,' is a pretty generic term, and could easily be construed as pretty much everything Samsung makes these days," said Drake. "Nonetheless, it seems likely that as time goes on, more and more of the things we use every day will be internet-connected."

While IoT may be a vague term now, according to research firm IDC, the global Internet of Things market will be worth $1.7 trillion in 2020.

Drake said his reseller business will see both challenges and opportunities in the next few years in integrating these devices, coordinating their use and crafting unique solutions using the device capabilities.

This is not the Suwon, South Korea-based company's first move into IoT -- just last week, Samsung said it will acquire U.S. cloud firm Joyent to bolster its IoT-related software and services. Last year, Samsung also launched Artik, a System on a Chip (SoC) that connects objects and the computing power behind those objects.

Kwon said that in order to succeed in building a successful Internet of Things market, policy makers need to be open and collaborative, as sector-specific regulations would inherently fragment the development of IoT.

Samsung and Intel on Tuesday also introduced an initiative called the National IoT Strategy Dialogue for industry partners to collaboratively develop strategic recommendations for U.S. policy makers about the Internet of Things.

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