Samsung makes splash with new watch and Speedo app

IFA tech fair showcases latest innovations in phones, watches, ovens, vacuums and TVs

When 1980s pop legends Yello took to the open-air stage on Thursday at Berlin's IFA, Europe's largest tech fair, the mood was very much in tune with the band's biggest hit: The Race.

The world’s leading electronics manufacturers are locked in a desperate sprint to grab consumer attention – and loyalty – for their particular interconnected gadgets and smart appliances.

As so often at IFA, Apple's absence handed the stage to their arch-rivals, Samsung.

The South Korean conglomerate, anxious to put behind it the era of exploding smartphones, presented a new range of smartwatches and televisions that caught admiring gazes of visitors.


The handsome Gear Sport watch is a waterproof fitness tracker able to record record swimming sessions with the preloaded Speedo On app. With a 1.2-inch OLED display and just shy of 43mm, it boasts a dual-core 1 GHz processor, 768MB of RAM and 4GB of storage for music and other files. Its 300mAh battery, Samsung says, should last two days of moderate use and sells for €449.

Competing for attention of smartphone lovers, Fitbit launched its “Iconic” in three colours. As well as a waterproof fitness tracker, it can manage music, let you listen to the radio and manage NFC-based on-the-go- mobile payments using a linked credit card.

For people who want a big, 55-inch television, but don’t want a black monster in the corner of the living room, Samsung presented a new ultra-HD television that looks like a picture frame, and shows art when it’s not in use. The 4K HDR TV comes with four HDMI ports, three USB ports, and supports all of the standard Samsung smart TV features – all for €1,700.

There were no flies on Samsung rival Panasonic, either, presenting a transparent OLED television that looks like a pane of glass. Company reps were tight-lipped on when the eye-catching television will launch.

There was plenty of buzz around the smartphone stands, with the standout being LG’s premium V30 device. Looking awfully like reports of the new iPhone, the V30 has a 18:9 six inch display, narrow bezel, dual camera, and concealed fingerprint scanner with a fast-loading battery and just 158g, a little lighter than the competition. A final touch: Bang & Olufsen earphones, worth €100, included in the package. The V30 launches on September 21 for €700.

But the talk of the IFA was not a smartwatch or a new smartphone, not even a record player you can hang on the wall.

Defrosting oven

The honour goes to Miele’s latest high-end oven that, alongside traditional convection technology, can use electromagnetic waves to cook the food you’ve just put in. Think of it as a microwave 2.0. About 70 per cent faster than a regular oven, it can also defrost like a microwave without turning everything to mush. In a demonstration, a chef put some cod in a block of ice into the oven. Eight minutes later, though the ice block was still intact, the fish inside was cooked.

The “Dialogue” oven, the future of cooking, can be yours for just €8,000.

Other popular household devices included Miele’s robot vacuum cleaner: the Scout RX2 Home Vision. When you are out, you can use an app to remotely activate its built-in surveillance camera to see what’s going on at home.

Liebherr has had a similar idea for its newest fridges: internal cameras that let you see from the supermarket whether you need to get butter. The tech industry has yet to deliver on its promise of the paperless office, but maybe the shopping list's days are numbered.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin