October 7, 2016
Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks.
According to TechCrunch, in contrast to Viv, “other agents like Siri are only starting to allow multiple silos of information across apps and services to start talking to one another and become links in a user’s command chain.”
Viv’s programmatic nature means that it features “software that builds itself,” making Viv “one of the first big splash announcements using the technique that we had seen in AI.” This feature “allows Viv to understand the intent of the user and to create programs to handle tasks on the fly, even if it’s never heard that particular one in the past.”
“Instead of having to write every code instructed, you’re really just describing what you want it to do,” said Kittlaus. “The whole idea of Viv is that developers can go in and build any experience that they want.”
He explains that the new relationship with Samsung is about “ubiquity,” referring to Samsung’s huge reach in digital devices. As companies such as Google arise as a potential direct competitor, “Samsung’s future looks much brighter when it owns the hardware and what runs on the hardware than when it is beholden to Google for updates and features.” In other words, Viv is a true competitor to Siri and Google Assistant.
Viv has not yet launched, so it’s unknown how it will stand up against the competition. But, clearly, beyond mobile phones, Samsung will be able to use Viv in a variety of ways, including for home appliances, and wearables.
“Samsung’s purchase of Viv, then, might be less about creating a voice-powered assistant to rival Apple or Google’s offerings and more about a voice-powered interface that remains the same across all of its devices, from phones to home hubs to doorknobs to refrigerators,” says TechCrunch.