Samsung unveils Bixby AI assistant for phones and IoT devices

Samsung unveils Bixby AI assistant for phones and IoT devices

Bixby AI assistant
Bixby voice assistant coming to fridges, TVs and IoT devices

Bixby voice assistant set to debut in Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone, but could also find its way into fridges, TVs and possibly air conditioners.

Samsung looks set to unveil its answer to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana with its new AI voice assistant, Bixby.

The Korean chaebol (the Korean name for a large, family-owned business) confirmed the name of its mobile assistant in a blog post, in time for the expected launch of its new smartphone, the Galaxy S8.

But in addition to appearing on mobile devices, Bixby also appears to be slated for use in other interconnected and IoT devices, such as TVs, refrigerators and even air conditioners.

Rumours of Bixby’s imminent launch began circulating in late 2016 when Samsung filed a trademark for the word “Bixby”. In late November, it acquired AI startup Viv Labs for an undisclosed sum. Viv Labs was founded by people who originally worked on Apple’s Siri.

“Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. In the future, you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby,” said InJong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D for Samsung’s software and services division.

He added that the assistant will “fundamentally different” from other voice assistants and will offer a more in-depth experience due to “completeness, context awareness, and cognitive tolerance”. It should be able to carry out “almost every task” that a suitably-enabled app is capable of. Rhee said that other AI assistants support a small subset of commands available in apps.

“The completeness property of Bixby will simplify user education on the capability of the agent, making the behaviours of the agent much more predictable,” said Rhee.

At launch, Bixby will be enabled in a few pre-installed apps on the Galaxy S8, but in time Samsung will release an SDK (Software Developer Kit) for third-parties to build Bixby-enabled apps and devices.

“Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby,” added Rhee.

More information about Bixby looks set to be divulged when it is launched alongside the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus on 29 March.