Though it is a bit late in entering the market, but multinational home electronics and handset manufacturer
Samsung states that its new AI powered personal assistant Bixby is different from other voice agents or assistants. The company states that it has employed AI, reinforcing deep learning concepts to the core of its user interface designs to offer a deeper experience than its peers.
But don’t get your hopes too high, Samsung claims that Bixby will be available on it upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone as well as other upcoming Galaxy models, but will not come as an update to older Samsung handsets. Though the company has stated that Bixby will initially work with a few pre-loaded applications, the handset manufacturer is reportedly in the process of working on an SDK tool for third-party developers to integrate Bixby into other applications.
Getting back to Bixby, Samsung’s Executive Vice President, Head of R&D, Software and Services, InJong Rhee stated that in comparison to other voice agents and assistants in the market, Bixby has completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance.
Samsung states that when an application becomes Bixby-enabled, the AI assistant will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using touch commands. It claims that existing voice assistants currently support only a few selected tasks for an application and not all tasks by voice commands. Bixby will simplify user education on the capability of the agent, making the behaviors more predictable.
Not disturbing work in progress
While using these applications, users will also be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application to allow users to carry out the process in continuity. It will allow users to apply either touch or voice at any context of the application depending on the comfort of the user. As compared to other assistants that have a single interaction mode, Bixby will allow users to switch among modes and keep doing the task at hand and not start the work all over again.
Interactions made easier and intuitive
Samsung claims that its voice assistant can take on multiple supported voice commands and users will not have to remember or state exact commands in a set of fixed forms. The company states that Bixby can accept commands with incomplete information, try and execute the command, and if need be prompt the user for further information, making it more interactive.
The handset manufacturer will also be introducing a dedicated Bixby button, which will be on the side of the phone. The rationale behind this is to make the voice assistant’s accessibility easier. Users usually have to unlock their devices to make calls, but using the button, a user can use commands without unlocking the device or taking multiple steps to make a phone call.
“Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life,” adds Rhee.
Competing with peers
Though Google Assistant, Allo, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa are able to provide context based and factual answers, Bixby seems to be inclined more towards handling the user’s tasks at hand. Google’s Assistant and Apple Siri lose out when the customer has to move to the touch mode as they cannot execute beyond certain commands. This is the space where Samsung’s Bixby will try to go one-up as it claims that it can complete all actions using voice commands and is deeply integrated with native applications.
“Samsung has a conceptually new philosophy to the problem,” said Rhee. “Instead of humans learning how the machine interacts with the world (a reflection of the abilities of designers), it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us. The interface must be natural and intuitive enough to flatten the learning curve regardless of the number of functions being added.”
Samsung seems to be focusing on the AI angle as last year the company acquired Viv Labs, that makes AI and assistant systems which was co-founded by the creators of Apple’s Siri. Samsung Ventures had also invested $11.5 million in another Canadian AI startup called Maluuba, which was acquired by Microsoft in January this year.