Samsung Integrates Viv Labs Tech into AI Assistant Bixby 2.0

Today, Samsung’s AI assistant Bixby can respond to a few commands and interact with a few apps and services. However, the new Bixby 2.0 will integrate technology from Viv Labs, which Samsung acquired a year ago for $215 million. Viv co-creators Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus previously created Siri prior to being acquired by Apple. Bixby 2.0, which will be available on devices including Samsung Smart TVs and Family Hub refrigerators, will be able to interact with more services and in a more sophisticated manner.

VentureBeat reports that, according to Samsung, “Bixby 2.0 will introduce deep linking capabilities, and enhanced natural language abilities — to better recognize individual users, and create a predictive, personalized experience that better anticipate their needs.”

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A Bixby 2.0 software development kit will also be available, first as a private beta for “select developers” and then “made generally available next year.” Bixby is currently available in 200 countries, in Korean and English only.

Samsung also debuted Project Ambience, “a prototype dongle with a chip and microphone inside that can be added to devices like speakers or TVs for quick access to Bixby assistant to do things like play music, set reminders, or control smart home devices.”

“These inexpensive dongles can be placed anywhere,” said chief technology officer Injong Rhee, who added that no release date has been set. “This means you can turn your home into an intelligent home at a lower cost. In contrast, today’s AI speakers use expensive far-field microphone array technologies.”

The company will also create a single service, SmartThings Cloud, under which its disparate IoT services (SmartThings, Samsung Connect, Artik) will be combined. “Over time all our IoT devices will become SmartThings compatible and gradually all Samsung devices from smartphones to TVs to refrigerators will offer a seamless interface and service,” said Samsung president DJ Koh.

According to VentureBeat, Bixby “got off to a rocky start this spring … after initially being scheduled for release in English in March with S8 and S8+ phones, [it] did not come to English-speaking customers until this summer.” As a result, it “still has ground to make up among major competitors like Cortana, Siri, and Alexa.”