Samsung to acquire AI platform developer Viv

Samsung has announced that it will buy artificial intelligence platform maker Viv, joining the race of global tech giants to achieve conversational interface.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Samsung Electronics will acquire open artificial intelligence (AI) platform developer Viv, the company has announced.

The deal shows the South Korean tech giant's commitment to virtual personal assistants and delivering an AI-based open ecosystem across all of its devices, it said. Viv's superior platform combined with Samsung's leading devices, services, and global resources will help drive the next generation of AI solutions, it added.

The company has its own virtual assistant app S Voice, like Apple's counterpart Siri.

Viv's AI platform allows third-party developers to use it to build conversational assistants and integrate natural language-based interfaces to existing platforms. The team will work closely with Samsung's mobile division while continuing to operate independently after the acquisition goes through.

Consumers now desire interaction with technology that is conversational, personalized, and contextual that fits with their lives, and Viv's platform allows this interaction to scale, Samsung said.

Viv was co-founded by Dag Kittlaus, who also co-founded Siri, which was bought by Apple for its own virtual assistant services.

"Unlike other existing AI-based services, Viv has sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities, and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem," said Injong Rhee, CTO of Samsung's mobile business, 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," he added.

"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. "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."

The South Korean tech giant's Global Innovation Center led the deal. It also worked with the mobile division to buy cloud vendor Joyent in June this year.

The announcement comes a day after Google announced Google Assistant, its own AI-based virtual assistant.

The AI industry is growing quickly. Tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft announced last month an AI alliance to educate the public on the application of AI technologies.

In March, Google's DeepMind AI beat a local champion in a Go match in Seoul. The South Korean government later promised $3 billion for AI R&D.

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