Samsung (SSNLF) wants you to talk to your phone more. Not in the traditional sense of calling someone, but rather by chatting directly with your handset via its Bixby voice assistant. Launched on the company’s Galaxy S8, Bixby got off to a rough start. It lacked voice recognition out of the box and wouldn’t gain the feature until months after its debut.
But Tim Baxter, president and CEO of Samsung North America, believes the company’s assistant will power nearly all of its devices going forward.
“We just announced last week at our developers conference what we call Bixby 2.0, which now brings this user interface not only in the phone, but in our televisions and appliances and other devices,” he said at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit. “And we think that will create new multi-device experiences and new benefits for consumers.”
Baxter envisions an ecosystem of Bixby-enabled devices across consumers’ homes. So if you want to see what’s in your refrigerator, you’ll be able to ask Bixby and you’ll get a view of your old milk on your smartphone.
That’s not just a pipe dream, either. Samsung Vice President Eui-Suk Chung laid out a similar scenario in a blog post announcing Bixby 2.0 last week.
“We see a world where digital assistants play a bigger role, an intelligent role, where one day everything from our phones, to our fridge, to our sprinkler system will have some sort of intelligence to help us seamlessly interact with all the technology we use each day,” Chung wrote.
Bixby’s biggest competitors, though, are heavyweights like Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa, Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Assistant and Apple’s (AAPL) Siri. Baxter, however, points out that Bixby was designed specifically to interact with Samsung devices rather than serve as a means to search the web or purchase items online.
“Samsung is coming at it from, ‘How do I utilize the technology and benefits in the device using a new UI and using voice?’ So, the ability to communicate directly to your device to learn more about it,” he said.
“The phones we have are more and more complex, there is more and more power in it … So why not have machine learning do that and intuitively just say ‘Take a selfie, post it on Instagram,’ or, ‘Shut down for the night and have my phone go into mute, have my alarm set for 6 a.m., have the phone go into a lighter tone brightness on i.’ ”
Bixby is still hobbled by the fact that the assistant doesn’t have the kind of intelligence that Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa currently offer. In time, though, the software could become more knowledgeable and eventually rival its chief competitors — but for now we’ll have to wait and see.