Samsung says it needs to ‘redefine’ its voice assistant Bixby with generative AI upgrade

Apr 1, 2024 8:56 am | News

Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S24 smartphones during a media preview event in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. Samsung, the world’s most prolific smartphone maker, is leaning into artificial intelligence as the key to unlocking greater sales this year. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Samsung could add generative artificial intelligence technology to its voice assistant Bixby, a top executive at the company told CNBC, as the South Korean giant looks to enhance the appeal of its devices.

Bixby launched in 2017 with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone. The software offered a number of functions, including live translations or restaurant recommendations.

But voice assistants have typically been less conversational and have relied on users asking questions and getting answers.

Chatbots are now more advanced and able to handle much more complex queries, after the emergence of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and its rivals. These new-age chatbots are an example of generative AI, which allows users to prompt with a query and will generate a response in the form of text, a picture, and now even video.

Samsung’s Bixby is across the company’s devices, from smartphones and smartwatches to its appliances. The firm sees it as a key tool for users to control their devices in their home.

So far, Bixby has not had the capabilities of ChatGPT.

Like many smartphone makers, Samsung is looking to infuse its devices with more advanced AI features. The company also launched new features with Galaxy AI, along with its latest S24 series of smartphones. This includes an option that lets users circle something on their screens and search for it on Google, without having to switch apps.

The tech giant is looking to amp up its AI with Bixby.

“So Bixby has been a key voice assistants voice assistant for Samsung not just for the mobile devices, but also for TVs and digital appliances that exist in Samsung’s ecosystem. So it has been the core voice assistant assistant so far,” Won-joon Choi, executive vice president at Samsung’s mobile business, told CNBC in an interview last month.

“With the emergence of generative AI and LLM (large language model) technology, I believe that we have to redefine the role of the Bixby, so that Bixby could be equipped with generative AI and become more smarter in the future,” Choi said, adding this will “enable a more natural conversation and to work out an interface that supports the Samsung products in our ecosystem.”

Choi did not give a timeline when Bixby may get generative AI features, but said that Samsung is “working so hard” to deliver them.

Samsung’s focus on the technology comes at a time when investors are scrutinizing what Apple will deliver when it comes to generative AI. Apple announced it would hold its annual developers conference, WWDC, in June, when the company is largely expected to talk up some AI features across its products.

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