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SmartThings, Samsung’s brand for controlling smart home tech, has announced a new partnership with smart light brand Philips Hue. In essence, if you buy into the Hue line of smart lights, specifically color-capable lights, they will sync with Samsung televisions (models from 2022 and newer) via the Philips Hue Sync TV App, without the need for any kind of external hub.

Hue lights are exceptional, but they’re not the cheapest—the light strip you’d use behind your TV is $94.99. Govee’s and Nanoleaf’s are comparative, but Hue requires you also pay for the Sync app. Previously, this was only offered via a one-time $130 charge. Today it announced a monthly subscription for $2.99, but that still means you’re paying for a service on top of the cost of lights, which neither Govee or Nanoleaf require. 

Samsung and Philips have specifically called out that the television is the center of many homes—it is, in effect, the “hub,” whether you mean it to be or not, and this integration seems to double down on that narrative. I have and love a similar system by Nanoleaf called 4D, and Govee and other producers also have these systems. They give your TV an “aura” that backlights against the wall based on the colors on the TV at any time, and can react in real time to sound. From what I can tell, Philips is going to be able to do this without the camera that both Govee and Nanoleaf require, and will instead rely on cooperation from other apps present on the TV.

In addition to the Hue integration, the SmartThings app now has a 3D spatial mapping feature, which was first announced at CES 2024. I was already impressed with MapView (the whole home 2D layout of my home with all my devices) that appeared in my SmartThings app back in January. This morning, a 3D option appeared and it, too, is pretty impressive.

That said, it’s not super accurate right out of the box: If you don’t have a Samsung mapping device like the Bespoke Jet AI Bot, the Samsung robot vacuum, it requires some input from you in the app to get the rooms and items lined up just right. This is not such a big deal, but given that I play with LiDAR mapping robots and motion sensing lights that can just figure this stuff out without my input, it’s not super exciting, either.

I’m also not entirely sure the benefit of taking the time to customize the map, unlike the benefits you might get from spending the time to nail down your robot vacuum map. But if you enjoy Minecraft, I expect you might enjoy laying out your smart home in the app. Samsung envisions benefits beyond the home to apartments and office spaces where real estate partners might create specific user experiences based on the space. 

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