Samsung, Nokia Reportedly Pursuing New Business Dimensions

Samsung is said to be partnering with Oculus on a virtual reality project, while Nokia's SRI spin-off is using artificial intelligence for smarter searches.

Nokia Desti AI

Samsung and Nokia are both exploring what might be summed up as new dimensions. Samsung is said to be working on a virtual reality (VR) headset with Oculus VR (which Facebook purchased in March), while Nokia spin-off SRI Ventures has purchased Desti, a travel planner that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to offer more user-specific search results.

Samsung and Oculus, rather than competing, as was first reported, are partnering, Engadget reported May 30, adding that Oculus will give Samsung early access to its mobile software development kit and Samsung will give Oculus early access to its next-generation OLED screens.

The VR headset they're creating together will rely on the display of a smartphone, the report added; and while the headset will include sensors, it will offload motion tracking and other more intense efforts to the phone's processor.

In a March 25 blog post, announcing Oculus' deal with Facebook, founder Palmer Luckey said he's come to believe that VR isn't just possible but "ready to move into the mainstream." To date, the company has received orders for more than 75,000 development kits from game developers and other creators.

(ABI Research has pointed out that Oculus, once a Kickstarter darling, isn't a zero-revenue company, despite not yet having a consumer-facing product. Those development kits, priced between $300 and $350, have brought in revenue between $23 million and $26 million, the firm said in an April 2 research note.)

While Samsung's effort for now is focused on games, SRI's is on maps. SRI, an investment spin-off of Here—Nokia's "mapping and location intelligence" suite of services combining cloud-based technology with real-time location information—purchased Desti May 30 for an undisclosed sum.

"The use of natural language technology to turn textual context into searchable, actionable knowledge is changing vertical search," Nadav Gur, GEO and founder of Desti, said in a May 30 statement.

"Desti users have planned hundreds of thousands of trips just by asking for what they want. Our smart approach to understanding users and places offers an experience that soon everyone will expect from their search services," Gur continued.

In a Here blog post the same day, the company explained that Desti searches in a way that takes people's preferences into account, picking through results in the way that a user would herself.

For example, someone who searches for "hotels + Cancun" knows the type of hotel and travel experience she prefers, but in traditional search there isn't room to express those nuances. The type of sorting that gets left to the user is what Desti seeks to take on.

"We want to create a new class of location services that implicitly understands who you are and what you're looking for, sometimes even before you ask," Don Zereski, Here's vice president of Search and Places, said in the post.

Research firm MarketsandMarkets expects the global market for dedicated augmented reality devices to reach nearly $660 million by 2018, and for the immersive virtual reality market to reach $407.5 million the same year.

In a March report, the firm said that augmented reality technology and VR are being driven by the health care industry, while another "driving factor" is their pairing with GPS and compass information.

"Good opportunities" for the application of VR and AR, the report added, exist in markets including education, military and enterprise.

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.