Samsung plans smart TVs with face recognition, voice and gesture control

The Korean electronics giant said all its devices would be tightly interconnected, but TVs are at the 'heart' of the ecosystem

Samsung Electronics announced a host of new gadgets at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, including smart TVs with face recognition, plus voice and gesture control, and a super-thin ultrabook laptop with a DVD drive.

The Korean manufacturer made a strong statement with its smart TV lineup, where it is competing to find a compelling recipe for Internet-connected sets. Samsung said all its devices would easily interconnect in the future, showing videos of cameras easily streaming photos to PCs and televisions, and a washing-machine smartphone app that tracks when your laundry is finished.

"The heart of this ecosystem is the TV," said Boo-Keun Yoon, president of the company's display business.

Samsung said its 2012 smart TVs will support control by voice and hand gestures, which are tracked by a built-in camera. That lineup will include a high-end, 55-inch model with an ultra-bright OLED display. The TVs will also have facial recognition, switching to different preferences and home screens based on which member of a family sits down to watch.

From this year, its smart TV lineup will also have upgrade slots, allowing for faster hardware and graphics to be plugged in without the need to buy a completely new product. The first upgrade kits will become available next year.

Samsung is also aggressively pursuing new content for its TVs, which until recently was a rare move for a hardware maker. The company said a TV version of the ubiquitous Angry Birds game will be available by spring, and it announced a family service that allows users to upload and share photos, plus a fitness platform that provides workouts and synchs to a wireless scale.

Samsung also said it would expand its cloud service to allow automatic cloud-based sharing among Samsung TVs, cameras and phones.

Samsung announced two new tablets that will launch on high-speed LTE networks in the U.S. this year: the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, with a highly sensitive stylus, which will be offered on AT&T, and a 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab on Verizon Wireless.

The company said it would also release two new models into the nascent ultrabook market, including one with a DVD drive, a rare feature for the super-thin machines.

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