Korean powerhouse Samsung Electronics is acquiring artificial intelligence platform developer Viv Labs, formed by the creators of Apple’s Siri digital assistant.

Founded in 2012 after Apple acquired the Siri developer, Viv has drawn interest for its next-generation AI platform that is viewed as an upgrade over Siri. It is billed as allowing developers to use natural language interfaces to build applications spanning a range of devices and services.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The deal promises to shift AI-based virtual assistant technology beyond smartphones to a range of Samsung consumer products, including home appliances and wearables. “Viv has a sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem,” Injong Rhee, CTO of Samsung’s Mobile Communications unit, noted in a statement.

Dag Kittlaus, Viv’s co-founder and CEO, said the startup’s goal was leveraging AI to “create an intelligent interface to everything.” The missing link was the ability to scale. Moving beyond the Siri smartphone approach, the startup focused on natural language interfaces for training virtual assistants that could be built into a range of devices.

“One thing missing from that picture was scale,” Kittlaus added in a company video. “Developers using this new [AI] technology can contribute and teach this system thousands and thousands of new things rather than just a few dozen, like today.”

The acquisition of Viv Labs is the latest in a series of deals by Samsung designed to push the company AI strategy beyond smartphones to include a range of consumer devices and appliances. “With this acquisition, we’ll be able to offer an intelligent interface, or virtual assistant based on AI technology, [to] simplify our user interfaces to understand the context of users and also understand the intention of a user much better,” Rhee said.

Samsung’s strategy is to scale next-generation AI technology from Viv Labs and other acquisitions across its arrays of devices, products and services. Hence, the company said it would open up its AI platform to third-party service providers as another way of scaling its virtual assistant technology across different product domains.

The electronics giant expects to use the Viv platform as a gateway for developers to “onboard” new services onto Samsung’s natural language platform, Rhee added. The combination “would allow us to scale the domain expertise to a larger ecosystem.”

While Viv Labs said it was seeking a way to scale its trainable AI platform, Rhee noted that the startup’s team of Kittlaus, Chris Brigham and Adam Cheyer would help Samsung recruit more AI developers.

The San Jose-based startup had raised $30 million in three funding rounds.



This article was republished from: https://www.datanami.com/2016/10/06/samsung-eyes-next-gen-ai-viv-deal/

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