The next flagship phone from Samsung, the Galaxy S8, is expected to arrive early next year with a major new feature: a built-in intelligent digital assistant. The artificial intelligence will be made possible by Samsung's acquisition of Viv Labs, which was announced last month.
Founded by two of the creators of Siri, Apple's signature digital assistant, Viv Labs said its technology represents a "new paradigm" for how people interact with computers. The Viv AI uses something called dynamic program generation that creates software on the fly based on the intent of the request given to it.
In a briefing reported yesterday by Reuters, Samsung said the addition of Viv's technology to the Galaxy S8 will enable a wide variety of new services for its customers. The more services that developers integrate with Viv, the smarter the AI will become, according to Samsung Mobile Business CTO Injong Rhee.
More AI Acquisitions on the Way
"Even if Samsung doesn't do anything on its own, the more services that get attached the smarter this agent will get, learn more new services and provide them to end-users with ease," Rhee told Reuters. According to the report, Samsung is also planning more acquisitions to continue boosting its capabilities in artificial intelligence.
Samsung has a lot riding on the success of the Galaxy S8 in light of its dramatic and costly failure with the Galaxy Note 7 phone (pictured above). Launched in early August, the Note 7 was quickly linked to a number of overheating-related fires and was discontinued in early October. Fallout from the Note 7 is expected to produce a $5.4 billion hit on Samsung's profits through the first quarter of next year.
The Galaxy S8 is expected to be released sometime after February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Galaxy S8 might be launched "as late as April," the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing unnamed sources familiar with Samsung's AI efforts.
'Democratizing' Artificial Intelligence
The Galaxy S8 could include a dedicated button on the side that, when pressed, would launch an intelligent assistant powered by Viv's technology, the Journal noted.
Viv would represent a significant advance over Samsung's previous digital assistant, S Voice. In comments last month about Samsung's acquisition of Viv, Rhee said the new technology would be a major differentiator for Samsung's devices.
"With Viv's technology, Samsung is the only company that is in the position to scale AI, essentially democratizing AI with millions of customer touchpoints across all of our devices and products," Rhee said in a video interview. "Our footprints of devices will provide the foundation for new scenarios, content and services, including creating new commerce opportunities."
Founded by Siri creators Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, Viv Labs unveiled its AI during a live demonstration at the Disrupt NY 2016 tech conference earlier this year. Kittlaus said Viv represents a "computer science breakthrough" because of how it uses speech recognition to determine a user's intent and then automatically creates software to produce an accurate and relevant response.
"This is software that's writing itself," Kittlaus said. The process, which takes just 10 milliseconds or so, enables Viv to scale in ways that other digital assistants currently cannot, he added.
The arrival of Viv on Samsung's phones comes on the heels of last month's launch by Google of the Google Assistant-powered Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, which CEO Sundar Pichai said represent the latest technology shift from a mobile-first world to one led by artificial intelligence.