Personal assistants are all the rage these days and now Samsung decided it wants a piece of the pie so the company shelved out an undisclosed amount of money to acquire Viv Labs, an AI startup founded by creators of Siri. Viv will operate under Samsung's wing as an independent company.
Formed in 2012, the Viv platform is described as a more extensible and powerful version of Siri, but it's hard to compare the two as Viv isn't publicly available yet. The first rollout of Viv will occur in 2017 as Samsung plans to put it on its smartphones.
“Unlike other existing AI-based services, Viv has a sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem,” said Injong Rhee, CTO of the Mobile Communications business at Samsung Electronics. “Viv was built with both consumers and developers in mind. This dual focus is also what attracted us to Viv as an ideal candidate to integrate with Samsung home appliances, wearables and more, as the paradigm of how we interact with technology shifts to intelligent interfaces and voice control.”
As TechCrunch suggests, this purchase is likely about more than just bringing a Siri clone to Samsung's Android platform. The site explains Viv gives Samsung the technology to implement a voice-powered interface across its entire product portfolio, including consumer wearables and household appliances.
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. That would catapult it directly into the very, very small group of companies that are vying to use AI as a way to acquire and retain customers.
If you're interested in learning with Viv's vision is, you can watch this half-hour video from the TechCrunch Disrupt event in May 2016.