Samsung building Bixby-powered AI Speaker to take on Amazon.
Bixby, Samsung’s personal digital assistant, could soon take up residence in a dedicated speaker akin to the Amazon Echo$179.99 at Amazon.
The Korean electronics giant is working on a voice-activated speaker codenamed “Vega” with Bixby built in, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Neither the device’s exact feature set nor its release date are clear, but if Bixby does make the move to a dedicated speaker, it would join rival speakers (both existing and upcoming) from Apple, Google, and Microsoft in addition to the Echo.
Amazon’s Alexa, which powers the Echo and many other Amazon smart home products, now has more than 15,000 third-party skills, which enable it to do everything from reading news headlines to turning on the lawn sprinklers. Despite Alexa’s popularity and Amazon’s overtures to smartphone makers, it has largely been absent from Android smartphones, at least compared to iOS’s tight integration with Apple’s Siri assistant.
So Samsung is looking to fill the Android assistant void with Bixby, which was announced earlier this year for the Galaxy S8$720.00 at Verizon Wireless but has yet to make a full roll out. If Samsung is working on a smart home speaker at the same time (the Vega project started more than a year ago, according to the Journal), the company could replicate Amazon’s recipe for success, which involves getting Alexa onto as many devices and into the hands of as many developers as possible.
Samsung didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. For now, you can experience a limited set of Bixby’s capabilities on the Galaxy S8 and S8+$840.00 at Verizon Wireless, including text-based suggestions about when to connect to Wi-Fi networks or reminders about what’s on your grocery list. Samsung is using an early access program to gather voice data and make Bixby smarter before rolling out the finished version to the general public.