Samsung published a statement on October 6 announcing its acquisition of Viv Labs, “the next generation artificial intelligence platform.”
Viv Labs were actually founded by Siri’s co-creators: Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham. They left Apple in after it acquired Siri and started Viv in 2012, according to TechCrunch.
According Samsung’s statement, Viv will work closely with Samsung’s Mobile Communications business, but will remain independent and continue to be run by Kittlaus, Cheyer and Brigham.
The deal will allow Samsung to start creating products with AI at their core without having to create a new AI from scratch (like Google’s Assistant).
Samsung’s statement implies that it will be utilizing Viv fairly soon, saying it will be able to provide new services to customers, specifically “including one that simplifies user interfaces, understands the context of the user and offers the user the most appropriate and convenient suggestions and recommendations.”
Samsung told Recode that their approach to AI won’t be as broad as Google, or even Apple. They want to focus more on devices, according to Samsung’s Mobile Unity CTO Injong Rhee.
Rhee told Recode that the effects of Viv’s acquisition will be obvious with next year’s flagship Galaxy phones. The company also has future plans to integrate Viv into TV’s and other technology.
Viv’s more interesting features, TechCrunch reports, include two main pillars: first, the ability to communicate with and across apps to create more natural interactions with people. This is similar to the new Google Assistant software Google announced Oct. 4th.
However, the more interesting part of Viv’s programming is at the back-end. Viv is actually capable of writing its own code, reports TechCrunch. The company calls it “dynamic program regeneration,” and allows Viv to learn on the fly, even if a user asks it to do something completely new. This system had a live demo at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference in May.
Samsung and Apple have been fighting over the top spot in the US smartphone market for a while now, and acquiring Viv means Samsung finally has some competition for Siri (and Google Assistant).
However, Kittlaus told TechCrunch that Samsung won’t be locking Viv away from the competition.
“No, definitely, the system and the philosophy are to keep this as open as we can and to add value everywhere possible. Clearly we will take full advantage of Samsung’s presence in both services and of course the devices and the integrations that are possible to make the experience really good,” he said.
Since Viv will continue to operate independently, it doesn’t seem like that will change.