Viv Labs

Samsung make important AI acquisition

Just two days ago when Google launched its latest hardware, the search engine giant was clear that its future would be defined by artificial intelligence. This has been followed by significant news from Samsung, announcing an agreement to acquire of Viv Labs.

Viv is a notable name within the industry, having been set up by Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, who created Apple’s Siri.

Announcing its agreement to buy Viv, Samsung made it clear that it sees the open nature of Viv’s AI system, which provides access for developers, as a major strength.

“Viv has developed a unique, open artificial intelligence platform that gives third-party developers the power to use and build conversational assistants and integrate a natural language-based interface into renowned applications and services,” Samsung said in a statement.

“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.”

The acquisition has been partially driven by the talent at Viv. Although the AI specialist will remain a separate company, its founders will now work closely with Samsung’s mobile division.

It is perhaps of little surprise that companies like Samsung and Google are heading in the same direction when it comes to AI.

With the launch of Google Now on tap last year, there was a focus on providing responses that were context-based. And at this week’s keynote, Google emphasised the weight it is placing on personalisation.

At the surface level, the biggest difference between the newly-launched Google Assistant and Google Now comes down to conversation, with the fresher product offering a more natural, human-like interface.

It is no coincidence that in announcing its purchase of Viv, Samsung set out its vision for AI as “conversational, personalised and contextual”.

Despite the increasing importance that Google has given to hardware recently, the search engine giant’s product range is still tiny compare to that of Samsung. The South Korean company has a huge catalogue of goods in which it could deploy Viv’s technology, from mobile hardware to home appliances, and beyond.

Samsung’s takeover of Viv is not in repose to Google’s recent keynote event – these type of agreements typically take much longer than two days to negotiate. Instead, the deal emphasises a common direction of travel within the industry, that does not stop at Samsung and Google.