Samsung is beginning to get serious about Bixby

Earlier this year, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S8 and S8+. In addition to debuting with a completely changed design when compared to previous Sammy phones, the S8 pair was also accompanied by another newbie – the AI-powered digital assistant dubbed Samsung Bixby.

There’s no denying that Samsung Bixby is a helpful and futuristic addition to the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 as well. However, many will also agree that the digital assistant is still lacking in some ways, especially when compared closely to the market that is dominated by Google Assistant and Apple Siri.

The fact that Bixby is lacking in some ways can be forgiven in that the virtual assistant is only a few months old. However, Samsung is already flexing its financial muscle in a bid to step up the superpowers of the assistant on its future phones. We’ve already seen several efforts being directed towards AI, among them the acquisition of VivLabs startup that was responsible for Apple’s Siri, the push for its own AI-powered chipsets similar to the new Kirin 970 that powers the Huawei Mate 10 series as well as the $30 million investment into AI chipset maker Graphcore.

To ramp its efforts up towards delivering a super Samsung Bixby assistant in future phones, the Korean tech giant has just acquired another AI property – Fluenty. This is a startup based in South Korea and it is best known for its hand in AI-powered services, more specifically the Fluenty chatbot. The startup is still young, having been established in 2014, and today it deals with developing apps and a Smart Reply API.

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The Fluenty chatbot uses machine learning to provide smart replies in both English and Korean. The bot is common in platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram, where it’s easily integrated into the messaging apps to offer smart reply capabilities. The company says that this bot is able to learn from your interactions and provide contextual answers in conversations.

According to the startup:

Fluenty is able to suggest smart replies that are specific to the person typing them. Let’s say for example that someone likes to say “Cheers!” instead of “Bye!” when closing a conversation. Fluenty is able to pick that up and will suggest it as a way to say goodbye in future messages.

As pointed out earlier, Fluenty relies on machine learning to deliver highly tailored results, but there’s more to this machine learning that can benefit Samsung Bixby. For instance, the bot can learn your patterns of communication by keeping tabs on the apps you use. The bot will then use machine learning to establish links between the apps and messages you send and receive via these apps.

So, if you are talking about the best restaurant in town, the bot will quickly bring up directions and other details of the place via Google Maps, thus eliminating the need to manually copy and paste the details in the mapping application. You might also be having a random chat on matters football and someone mentions the name of a football club. Fluenty would be able to prepare a link that gives you more details about the mentioned football club or even the most recent highlights via a YouTube link.

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There’s no guarantee that the mentioned features will make it to Bixby, but given the digital assistant’s lack of significant usefulness, it’s obvious that this acquisition is a much needed one and a direct indicator that Samsung is indeed getting serious about the AI-powered digital assistant.

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