Samsung’s Vault into Voice

Screenshot of Viv.ai

A few days ago, Samsung bought Viv. Viv had yet to release their app after about four years of heavy speculation about how it was so spectacular, it would blow away Siri or Google Now. Viv had showcased it’s technology at TechCrunch Disrupt in May.

However, this is not Samsung’s first experience with voice. With the Galaxy phones, Samsung had both voice trigger (“Hello Galaxy”) as well as S-Voice, an ill attempt at overtaking Siri (Vlingo powered S-Voice and was later acquired by Nuance). It couldn’t keep up with its competitors and with Google Now being as available on Android phones, it slowly faded to the background. I’m not sure how much it’s used these days in North America.

Samsung Ventures was also an investor in Waterloo’s Maluuba, a company focused on natural language processing, but it’s not clear whether any of their IP made it into the S-Voice. Also, Maluuba seems to be working in the background on different natural language and voice applications that power B2B solutions.

I’m curious whether Viv was part of the hype cycle around natural language companies that’s going on now. This is at least the fourth acquisition announcement of an NLU company in the past two weeks.

So some questions:

  • Will Samsung use Viv to replace S-Voice and compete with Google Assistant?
  • Will it start to Viv into Samsung Otto or a similar device?
  • Could this be used to create an AVS-like solution off of Samsung’s ARTIK?
  • Will this be for some application we won’t see for a number of years?

As another theory, maybe Samsung’s acquisition of Viv is strategic to keep the team away from Apple, Amazon, or Google.

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