Korea Times

Galaxy S8 to come with AI features

Samsung is counting on the new AI feature to get back on track after Galaxy Note 7

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:40am

By Lee Min-hyung

Samsung Electronics’ upcoming flagship handset, the Galaxy S8, will be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) functions, paving the way for a powerful new paradigm shift in the smartphone industry, the company said Friday.

“The S8 will become our first smartphone with AI agent technology,” Samsung Electronics Vice President Rhee In-jong said in a press conference, Friday. “This will be our first step in achieving our vision of connecting the devices in an intelligent way, making people’s lives more convenient.”

AI agent technology refers to a kind of software application that can automatically execute tasks manually instructed by its user. Earlier last month, Samsung Electronics acquired Viv Labs, a U.S.-based AI firm, in its bid to establish what it calls an AI-centred open ecosystem by taking advantage of the latter’s expertise in natural language understanding and machine learning technology.

In the press conference, the company unveiled its AI business initiative with Viv executives ― including its CEO Dag Kittlaus and CTO Adam Cheyer.

Samsung Electronics said its ultimate goal is to establish an open AI platform where Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be interconnected via voice control.

“The new AI functions of the S8 are not about its services, but the beginning of our vision,” the Samsung executive said. “We are going to expand its presence into other devices ― including televisions, refrigerators and washing machines. Users will not have to operate any apps in the upcoming era, as the open AI ecosystem will allow agents to do tasks on their own.”

But the company declined to comment further on specific AI characteristics of the new smartphone.

AI is the talk of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry in South Korea and abroad, as it makes human-like predictions.

As the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume, Samsung Electronics is also betting big on the next growth area.

Aside from the Viv deal, Samsung’s research bodies are increasing investments into new AI-based startups. Late last month, Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center, along with other tech firms, helped U.K.-based AI chipmaker Graphcore to rake in US$30 million in funding.

In a third-quarter regulatory filing, Samsung also unveiled its ambition of connecting all of its electronics devices into one unified AI interface, backed by the recent partnership with Viv.

Viv Labs CEO Dag Kittlaus also expressed confidence over the potential synergy its speech recognition technology will generate with Samsung.

“Speech recognition is approaching 95 per cent accuracy, and it’s rapidly approaching the level where people can interact with more and more things,” he said. “We have big plans with Samsung, and this is the beginning of a long-term relationship with very big AI ambitions.”