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Samsung Acquires Virtual Assistant Viv

Samsung moves further into voice-enabled, natural language interfaces for developers.
By Leonard Klie - Posted Oct 6, 2016
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Samsung Electronics has agreed to acquire Viv Labs, provider of an intelligent interface and open artificial intelligence (AI) platform that enables third-party developers to use and build conversational assistants and integrate a natural language-based interface into applications and services. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The deal showcases Samsung's commitment to virtual personal assistants and is part of the company's broader vision to deliver an AI-based open ecosystem across all of its devices and services. With Viv, Samsung will be able to unlock and offer new service experiences, including one that simplifies user interfaces, understands the context of the user, and offers the user the most appropriate and convenient suggestions and recommendations.

"Unlike other existing AI-based services, Viv has a sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities, and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem," said Injong Rhee, chief technology officer of the Mobile Communications business at Samsung Electronics, in a statement. "Viv was built with both consumers and developers in mind. This dual focus is also what attracted us to Viv as an ideal candidate to integrate with Samsung home appliances, wearables and more, as the paradigm of how we interact with technology shifts to intelligent interfaces and voice control."

Bill Meisel, president of TMA Associates, has high hopes for Viv. The app, he says "is likely to be a significant competitor when launched, using a collaborative approach to building its knowledge base. "

"At Viv, we're building the simplest way for anyone to talk to devices and services everywhere. We see a future that is decidedly beyond apps—where you can get what you need quickly and easily no matter where you are, or what device you are near," said Viv co-founder and CEO, Dag Kittlaus, in a statement. "Samsung offers us a unique opportunity to deliver a single conversational interface to the world’s apps and services across a diverse range of products, at global scale."

Kittlaus' and his Viv co-founders, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, helped develop Siri, which was acquired by Apple in 2010. They left Apple soon thereafter and founded Viv, which launched in 2012. Viv will continue to operate as an independent company and provide services to Samsung and its platforms. It is based in San Jose.


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