It’s no secret that Samsung has been working on a voice based AI system for its mobile devices, with their own internal S Voice team, being joined by the recently acquired AI specialist company Viv. Now Samsung have announced just how this tech will be put into play within their devices, in the form of Bixby - a mobile based voice interface which aims to learn from its users.
Boasting its advantages over unnamed yet easy to distinguish rival voice activated AI systems, Samsung says Bixby features ‘completeness’ meaning every function is voice controllable, ‘context awareness’ meaning it takes what is going on already on the device into account when choosing a response, and cognitive tolerance’ meaning it understands commands given as prose rather than just key phrases.
While Samsung name checks the upcoming S8 as featuring Bixby including certain pre loaded apps and a dedicated Bixby button, the company are keen to communicate that it’s still early days, ‘There has been a lot of excitement and speculation about what we will deliver with the launch of the Galaxy S8 later this month, especially due to the advancements in artificial intelligence. We do have a bold vision of revolutionising the human-to-machine interface, but that vision won’t be realised overnight. Ambition takes time.
‘Bixby will be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone. At the launch of the Galaxy S8, a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled. This set will continue to expand over time. Our plan is to eventually release a tool (in SDK) to enable third-party developers to make their applications and services Bixby-enabled easily.’
Samsung previously attempted to steal a march on the connected home with its 2014 acquisition Smartthings, but the real power is in the hub that holds it all together. With the rise of Alexa and the imminent arrival of Google Home, has Samsung fallen behind where it really counts? While Alexa is definitely in the lead in terms of market share, it will be Google that worries Samsung as it challenges the Korean manufacturer’s attempts to add differentiation to the device itself through voice activation. This is much in the same way Google’s pre-loaded apps challenge things like Sony’s music player.
It’s an uphill struggle for Samsung who don’t have anywhere near the level of eco-system control as Google who will also look to use their existing AI prowess to add a level of integration that rivals may struggle to match.
That’s not to say Samsung aren’t without a chance, they’ve given Google a bloody nose in the VR market and will be expecting to do the same here. Unlike the Silicon Valley giants, Samsung will be launching Bixby with the power and impact of a big launch in the UK and can expect strong coverage as long as it meets expectations.