Siri’s “Parents” Work to Expand Bixby Digital Assistant for Samsung
Viv Labs, which was behind Siri’s creation, helps Samsung to hone the proprietary digital assistant.
Digital assistants are essential nowadays. Apple introduced Siri, Windows designed Cortana, Amazon invented Alexa and Pixel developed the Google Assistant (Maybe their name creators were off to lunch that day). Samsung now claims that their own digital assistant Bixby, (named after the San Francisco bridge), is going to blow the others out of the water.
Bixby embraces four components: Voice Agent, Reminders, Vision, and Home. The first two features are familiar to all gadget owners around the world. You speak up – and the assistant speaks back or completes a task. It also brings up reminders that you’ve put in earlier. Nothing new to it. But the other two will explain why Samsung has spent a year and a half over the project while fighting back scorns, accusations and sneers from the competition.
First, there is the Vision feature. Bixby will use a camera to recognize objects – a book, for instance: Bixby will surface various buttons with titles describing the item it sees. The title button pushed, Bixby’ll inform you where you can buy that book and the price of it. The assistant will be able to recognize bottles of wines, cars and other things of interests as well.
Here where the Viv Labs come in: Their task is to expand the app, so that Bixby will be able to transfer the task data to the third-party ecosystem, Google. Really, Samsung doesn’t need to reinvent its’ own search engine, but instead to nicely build Bixby into what already exists. Viv Labs has succeeded with Siri and surely will do it again with Bixby.
As for the Bixby on-gadget search, it will be remarkable, too. The digital assistant from Samsung is claimed to be able to search pictures by description and attach them to emails. Like, “Find the funny picture of a cute cat I snapped last week, and send it to Jesse”. It’s the thing we’ve longed for other assistants to do, but somehow have missed out on. When our command contains little information for the digital assistant to complete it, the DA just refuses to go on and politely informs us so. It’s annoying and kills the very idea of assisting altogether. Bixby, its creators promise, will struggle to take the user as far as it can: it’ll create that email and attach the picture, even if it can’t recognize the correct email, corresponding to Jesse you mentioned.
So, while everyone is gossiping about what socket on the iPhone that Apple will ditch next, Samsung’s silently preparing a revolution in AI. For example, Microsoft has been fiddling with the idea of a real object recognizing feature for the second generation of the Surface tablets, but pulled the plug on it before getting very far. Their recognizing system only worked on physical contact, while Samsung’s Bixby will work with images.
Their new digital assistant will be helpful in a real way. No mundane jokes, no web links lists, just orders followed obediently and precisely. And Samsung and Viv Labs engineers are extremely ambitious about setting to the task of making an excellent assistant. The current apps – Galleries, Contacts and all – can perform up to 300 tasks and Bixby will cover them all with just a one touch command. It’s a very complicated goal I should say. I really doubt if Samsung S8 would cope with it. It must have the top hardware in order to work, that’s for sure. Understanding everyday speech is a difficult task for modern gadgets to do. Everyone who tried to dictate Google Docs or a text on iPhone can vouch for that. On the other hand, they don’t install octa-cores for nothing, do they? This way, the multi-cored CPUs will at least have a really hard job to do.
And the last feature, is Bixby Home. It will live on the screen to the left of the home screen. It will consist of cards with info, suggestions about things you might like to do or watch, and is expected to be also expandable. The third parties will be able to work with it and it will context, if you’re at office, or home. The feature will be brought up with a short tap, while the long tap will wake up Bixby listening.
So, Bixby is another reason to look forward to the next Samsung’s phone. It can turn out to be much more than another piece of design art.