Last year, Samsung decided to do away with a hefty sum of money (approx. US$ 215 million) in order to acquire a virtual assistant startup called Viv Labs (whose founder helped build Apple’s Siri).
The South Korean company’s intention for the purchase is, primarily, to roll out its very own voice assistant to rival Google’s, which is currently dominating the market, courtesy its Android stronghold.
Of course, Samsung wants its own Tizen OS to fuel its smart IoT appliances, such as Cameras, Smartwatches, and TV sets, and a smart voice assistant is a big piece missing in its smart ecosystem puzzle.
Encountering numerous queries regarding the much awaited Bixby (that is what it is being called) voice assistant, we compiled the answers to all of those in a simple why and what and how format, so that you can get familiar with the same:
What is Samsung Bixby?
Samsung first talked about developing its own ‘assistant’ in November last year, wherein the company also stated that it will be based on the tech acquired after the Viv takeover.
The company intends to integrate the Bixby AI platform in its Galaxy series of smartphones, starting with the upcoming Galaxy S8 handset, and home appliances as well as wearable tech too.
The possible uses for the AI platform include computer software for personal information management, mobile and PC apps uses for voice recognition, and software enabling hands-free use of a mobile phone through voice recognition.
The AI platform is expected to turn up in both male and female voices with the male one being called ‘Bixby’ and the female one named as ‘Kestra’ (with reference to the trademarks filed by the company in South Korea and Europe).
When will it come out?
This spring. Or possibly earlier.
As mentioned, the company is looking to include it in the Galaxy S8 smartphone, so we might as well peg its date at around the same time as the phone and considering it will be unveiled on 29th March and go up for sale from 21st April, a spring outing looks very, very likely.
How will Bixby function?
Renders and leaked images of the S8 have pointed towards a dedicated physical button on the right, which is quite possibly reserved for Bixby only. The presence of the button does indicate that it may not be voice- activated after all.
The Bixby AI assistant is expected to be used in almost all of the native apps that the S8 will carry and update them with a new UI at that. It will be spread system-wide and be better than the S voice and, in all likelihood, replace it altogether.
Due to this system-wise reach, Bixby would be a great tool for contextual as well as pictorial searching purposes, also allowing the users to double the camera of the S8 as an OCR tool.
Bixby will also help in easy transactions and payments through simple voice commands, under a feature called the Bixby Pay, which is being said to be under works.
Samsung is also looking into integrating it with third party apps so that the users are able to hail an Uber or order groceries without shifting through separate apps.
In a feature that would separate it from the like of Siri, Cortana, et al, Bixby would cease to be just another AI restricted to smartphones and will also work with appliances that users frequently interact with, going as far as doubling up as a remote control for some of them.
The AI platform would cater to multiple language options and is being rumored to come with a Bixby Speaker to allow the users to cue up music, and ask basic questions or at least search the web using voice commands.