Samsung might be launching an artificial intelligence-powered smart speaker to take on the likes of Amazon and Google.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the South Korean electronics giant is currently developing a voice-controlled speaker codenamed “Vega” that incorporates Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant.
Smart speakers are one of the hottest areas in tech right now. Amazon is the market leader, with its Echo, while Google has the Google Home. Apple is bringing out the AirPod at the end of the year, while Microsoft has announced Invoke. All promise to use AI to transform your home, playing music, providing information, and answering queries on demand.
Now Samsung reportedly plans to enter this increasingly crowded field — though it’s unclear when it would launch, how much it might cost, or what specific features it would include.
The company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Samsung has big plans for Bixby — but it’s not all plain sailing
Bixby is Samsung’s AI assistant — its answer to Alexa, or Siri, or the Google Assistant. And like its rivals, Samsung has some big plans for it — it intends to embed it in objects throughout your home, from washing machines to toasters.
“Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances,” Samsung executive vice president Injong Rhee wrote in a blog post in March 2017. “In the future, you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby.”
At least, that’s the plan. So far, it hasn’t gone smoothly. Bixby was announced ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S8, the company’s flagship smartphone launched in April 2017. But the English-language version of Bixby has hit delays, and according to The Wall Street Journal’s sources, it may not be ready until “the second half of July.”
It’s all to play for right now
This is all early days for AI assistants in the home. What they can do is still pretty limited, and the vast majority of people still don’t have one. But consumer adoption over the next year or so is crucial.
Once consumers start using one, they’re likely (unless it’s awful) to keep using it, and to buy more products with it in. If you buy an Amazon Echo, you might next buy a washing machine with Alexa enabled, or a fridge, or even a car. And once that happens, you’re locked into that ecosystem for years to come.
Samsung, like Google, Amazon and the rest, is desperate to get its foot in the door now — before it’s too late.