Amazon has made a strong push into the smart home market with the Echo speaker and its Alexa software. But now one of the company’s top engineers is leaving to help Samsung develop competing products as senior vice president of engineering for its SmartThings division.
Robert Parker joined Samsung this week after four years at Amazon, where he helped develop the Fire TV streaming stick, Alexa and the Prime Music streaming service as director of engineering. Before that, he spent 18 years at Microsoft as a general manager.
Parker told The Verge that he sees an opportunity to really improve what’s available in the smart home market at Samsung. “I’m going to make something that is measurably better for your house,” Parker said, adding, “SmartThings has this opportunity to really be the heart of your home.”
Parker plans to include “guardrails” in future products, essentially making it as easy as possible to use connected gadgets with SmartThings. It’s a similar approach to the Amazon Echo, which is designed to work right out of the box with as little effort as possible.
The future of SmartThings could also include a more rigorous certification process. Specifically, Samsung may demand more data from supported devices, which it could use to improve the overall experience. That’s a clear shift away from the company’s open standard approach, but it may be necessary to compete with integrated systems from Google and Apple.
Samsung noted that future SmartThings-approved products will still work with other smart home standards. However, they may work even better on Samsung’s network.