It’s been an impressive week for artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), with momentum and talk building around Apple’s AR initiatives and Samsung (News - Alert) preparing to launch its Galaxy S8 phone with the new Bixby AI assistant. At the heart of Samsung’s Bixby announcement is the assurance that it will be fundamentally different from other voice agents and assistants on the market, namely Siri and Google (News - Alert) Assistant.
Samsung describes Bixby as a new intelligent interface for its devices, offering a deeper and more meaningful interaction than other assistants. The main differentiators include completeness, meaning that Bixby will be able to support nearly every task an application is capable of performing, once that app is “Bixby-enabled.” Bixby-enabled apps will also be contextually aware, meaning that users can call on Bixby at any time and the assistant will factor in the context and state of the application to add deeper understanding and awareness to the interaction. And Bixby also boasts cognitive tolerance, meaning it will be smart enough to understand commands even if given incomplete information. The assistant will then execute the requested task to the best of its knowledge, also prompting users for more information to get the task completed.
Samsung also revealed that it is including a dedicated Bixby button in its new devices to eliminate friction and confusion when activating the assistant. And the company will launch its Galaxy S8 with a subset of preinstalled, Bixby-enabled apps and also plans to release a SDK tool so third-party developers can easily “Bixby enable” their apps and services. Samsung will gradually integrate Bixby with all of its appliances, the company revealed, including products like TVs and air conditioners.
“Bixby is at the heart of our software and services evolution as a company,” wrote InJong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D, software and services at Samsung. “We are fundamentally and conceptually changing our attitude toward software and services and working hard on innovation throughout all aspects of our mobile ecosystem. With the continued investment from Samsung on artificial intelligence, the possibility of what Bixby can become is endless.”
Apple (News - Alert) is also ramping up its AR strategy, according to sources who spoke anonymously to Bloomberg Technology. Spearheaded by CEO Tim Cook, the company has allegedly built a team of hardware and software veterans, including those who worked on the Oculus and HoloLens VR headsets. Apple has also acquired several smaller companies specializing in the AR hardware, 3D gaming and VR software spaces. The company is reportedly working on a variety of AR products, including digital spectacles for connecting wirelessly to an iPhone (News - Alert) and beaming content like movies and maps to the user.
For now, Apple is keeping quiet about its AR efforts except for Cook’s statement last year that, at some point, we will all “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you." If the success of the iPhone is any indication, we have great things to look forward to in the AR space.
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