Samsung Developing Smart Speakers That Will Use The Bixby Voice Assistant

Reports indicate that Samsung is developing a smart speaker that will be powered by Bixby, the South Korean conglomerates’ own voice assistant. According to the reports which appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the smart speaker has been codenamed Vega. No details on the specifications or features were available though. It was also not clear when the smart speaker will likely go on sale.

The Journal report indicated that progress on the smart speaker is being hampered by Bixby. Though the voice assistant was unveiled by Samsung earlier in the year with the promise that it would be a key feature in the Galaxy S8 Plus and the Galaxy S8, the devices were launched in the United States without Bixby. This is because it lacked support for the English language.

Deep learning technology

It was only in June that Samsung was able to roll out a preview offering support in English but it is not yet fully developed. Currently, only speakers of the Korean language are able to make full use of Bixby. In the development of voice assistants where deep learning technology is key, data is required in huge amounts. This is because for the voice assistant to learn and evolve it has to accumulate data. Samsung was late to venture into big data unlike rivals such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

Sources also indicate that another factor hampering progress on Bixby is the language and geographical barrier that exists between Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea and the research and engineering team that is based in California.

“Many engineers in the US are making full efforts to develop the English version. But, their frequent reports to and communication with the management located in Korea makes the progress much slower than developing the Korean version here,” a source revealed to The Korea Herald.

Crowded market

Regardless of when Samsung unveils its smart speaker it will find a market that is increasingly getting crowded. Online retail giant Amazon released its Echo range of speakers in 2014 and is now the market leader. Google’s range of Home smart speakers were released in 2016 while Apple is preparing to launch its HomePod smart speaker later in the year.

Microsoft is also understood to be working on smart speakers that will run on its Windows 10 operating system. Other technology firms based in Asia such as Line and Alibaba are also planning to unveil their own set of smart speakers in the near future.