Samsung to buy Viv Labs to challenge Google Assistant

AI startup Viv Labs was founded by the team that created Siri, and has a similar conversational interface

Samsung Electronics has agreed to buy Viv Labs, an artificial intelligence startup created by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham.

You may not have heard of Kittlaus, Cheyer or Brigham, but if you own an iPhone you've probably spoken with one of their creations, Siri. Apple bought their first startup, a spinoff from SRI International, in 2010. A couple of years later, they left to create Viv.

Samsung's move into AI could be seen as a reaction to Google's launch of a new AI assistant on its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones on Tuesday.

Like Google Assistant, Viv is designed to answer natural language queries by integrating with a variety of web services. But where Google already has a range of in-house services -- Maps, Gmail, search -- from which to gather context, Viv aims to build an open ecosystem. Many of the useful functions will be delivered by third party developers, a model similar to the one Amazon.com is pursuing for its Echo devices.

Initially, the Viv team planned to sell the service to consumer electronics manufacturers and app developers as a way to give AI capabilities to the Internet of Things.

CEO Kittlaus told TechCrunch back in May that the company's goal was "ubiquity."

Samsung's agreeing to buy the company, though, is going to limit the number of vendors likely to be distributing Viv. Being in every room in the home is still a possibility, though, as in addition to smartphones Samsung also makes TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, microwave ovens and robot vacuum cleaners.

Announcing the deal on Thursday, Samsung said it is committed to virtual personal assistants as part of the company's broader vision to deliver an AI-based open ecosystem across all of its devices and services.

That continuity is good news for developers who had invested in integrating their services with Viv, but finding themselves now tied to Samsung may not be so welcome.

Samsung already has a personal assistant on its smartphones: S Voice. Early versions of this used the Vlingo speech-to-text engine, while more recent ones rely on a speech-to-text service provided by Nuance Communications, the same one used by Viv and which also powered Siri. It hasn't said whether it will replace S Voice with Viv on future phones, or integrate Viv's capabilities into future versions of S Voice.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleGoogle+samsung

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?