Samsung’s Galaxy S8 to include its AI assistant

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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 to include its AI assistant

The Galaxy S8 smartphone will be the first device with Samsung Electronics’ own voice-powered artificial intelligence (AI) interface built in partnership with Viv Labs, a U.S. start-up that the Korean IT giant acquired last month.

The phone is scheduled to launch next year.

“You can think of Galaxy S8 to be the first device with the [AI] platform and later it will also be available on home appliances and many other devices linked to daily lives such as lights and door-lock systems,” said Rhee In-jong, executive vice president at Samsung Electronics. “Viv Labs will provide us a crucial component to make this possible.”

Viv Labs, a San Jose, Calif.-based firm run by the co-creator of Apple’s Siri, works on a so-called open AI platform enabling third-party developers to freely plug their service capabilities into the platform. This will enable an AI assistant to perform an unlimited number of services that were available through separate applications, according to Viv Labs Vice President of Engineering Adam Cheyer.

“Our Galaxy smartphones don’t provide services that enable consumers to [directly] order pizza or coffee, but does provide third party applications,” Cheyer said during a recent visit to Korea with top management of the company. “Our AI platform will be more than just intelligence, it will simply do what we ask for and will expand to thousands of services compared to the only few services that we provide now.”

The specifics as to how much AI capability S8 will carry has not been disclosed, however Rhee said, “it will be significantly differentiated from the current services we see in the market now.” He added, “the Galaxy S8 is the beginning, we can’t say the S8 will have everything.”

Samsung’s AI assistant will compete with Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Watson of IBM and Cortana of Microsoft.

While there were numerous companies offering to work with Viv Labs, the start-up chose Samsung, it said, because of the similar vision they held: the “ubiquity” of AI assistance.

“The focus is to make it work as connected technology, which will extend to all sorts of devices that users work on or use,” CEO Dag Kittlaus of Viv Labs said. “Also, there isn’t any company in the world with a broader set of devices and vision [as Samsung].”

As Samsung also produces home appliances and many “smart” devices, the AI platform will be established to connect all Samsung products and services, the company said on a conference call with analysts last month.

Samsung’s move is natural as the AI market has become the next big thing for the industry and the market is expected to grow at an average 53.6 percent every year until 2020, according to market research company Markets and Markets.

“There were revolutions in user interfaces every decade and from the advent of personal computers to smartphones in 2007, the next big change will be led by AI,” Rhee said.

During Viv Labs’ visit to Korea, they also consulted with Samsung’s Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. “The meeting left a very good impression on us and we are ready to go,” Kittlaus said.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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