​Samsung is building its own Amazon Echo but faces a Bixby data shortage

Samsung will enter the smart speaker race... once it overcomes challenges in its Bixby voice assistant.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Amazon's Echo, along with Google Home, are the obvious targets for a Bixby-based Samsung speaker.

Image: CNET

Samsung could be gearing up to launch its own AI-powered speaker to compete with Google Home and Amazon Echo.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung is working on a smart-speaker project, codenamed Vega, which will integrate its Bixby voice assistant. Bixby was touted as a key feature of the Galaxy S8 and promised to be Samsung's answer to Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Google Assistant.

However, at the May launch of the Galaxy S8, Bixby voice was only available in Korean, and delayed for English-speaking markets until late spring, a dateline that has now passed.

Samsung has high hopes for Bixby, claiming it will do everything you can do by touch. In March, Samsung said after it brings Bixby to smartphones, it will add it to all household appliances to make it the "interface for your life".

But only if it could access enough data to deliver those features to English markets.

Details of the Vega project came to light as The Korea Herald reported a delay in the English version of Bixby due to a shortage of data required to train its deep-learning system.

"Developing Bixby in other languages is taking more time than we expected mainly because of the lack of the accumulation of big data," a Samsung spokesperson told the Korean paper.

While it is preferable that Samsung gets Bixby right before releasing it, the delay does leave the Bixby button sorely in need of a purpose for a while longer, possibly until August or even later.

Samsung launched a Bixby beta program in the US in June but the results were mixed.

According to the WSJ, it's "unlikely" the Galaxy S8 will see Bixby enabled before the second half of July.

That Bixby data shortage in turn is holding up the Vega project, for which has yet to determine key specifications, features, and a release date.

Though a late entrant to voice assistants and trailing smart speakers from Amazon and Google, Samsung may be well placed when Vega does arrive if it brings together its smartphones and other smart appliances already in homes.

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