Meet ‘Bixby’, Samsung new digital assistant

Samsung announced on Monday that finally after a long wait a voice-powered digital assistant named “Bixby” will debut with the flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone set to be unveiled soon by the South Korean consumer electronics giant.

Bixby enters the overcompetitive field of digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence that includes Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. Samsung said Bixby will focus on letting people control mobile apps with spoken directions.

“Bixby will be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone,” Samsung Electronics head of R&D, Injong Rhee said in a release.

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“Bixby will be a new intelligent interface on our devices.”

A Galaxy S8 smartphone expected to be launched by next week will have a set of pre-installed applications that will work with Bixby, according to Samsung.

Samsung bought Viv last year, an artificial intelligence startup with co-founders who were actually a part of the team that built the virtual assistant Siri, which Apple bought some seven years ago.

Bixby will be different from digital assistant already on the market in ways that include controlling almost all tasks in applications instead of limited sets, and being flexible when it comes to understanding what users are saying, according to Samsung.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 2: A man holds a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 during a launch event at the Hammerstein Ballroom, August 2, 2016 in New York City. The stylus equipped smartphone will be available starting August 19, with preorders starting August 3. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We do have a bold vision of revolutionizing the human-to-machine interface, but that vision won’t be realized overnight,” Rhee said.

Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft are all racing to develop the most sophisticated connected assistant — working to give software the ability to understand what people say and even anticipate desires or needs.

Amazon virtual assistant Alexa was a major attraction at the Consumer Electronics Show gadget gala earlier this year in Las Vegas but faces fierce competition.

Chinese giant Baidu also showcased their virtual assistant “Little Fish” and said that it was preparing for a debut in China.

Microsoft recently bought Maluuba, a Montreal startup focused on making machines able to think the way people do.


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