After months of speculation and rumors about creating a personal digital assistant that will compete with Apple's Siri, Samsung is now sharing more about the technology behind its Bixby voice-activated "intelligent interface."
Set to debut March 29 when Samsung is expected to unveil its latest Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone models, Bixby will use artificial intelligence and a new side-mounted button on the S8 handsets to allow users to explore its capabilities, InJong Rhee, executive vice president and the head of research and development for software and services at Samsung, wrote in a recent post on the company's website.
"Bixby will be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone," wrote Rhee. "At the launch of the Galaxy S8, a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled," with additional applications that work with Bixby to come in the future. "Our plan is to eventually release a [software developers kit] to enable third-party developers to make their applications and services Bixby-enabled easily."
The idea behind Bixby is to reinvent Samsung devices so they learn and adapt to the behaviors of their users, rather than requiring users to adapt to the devices, wrote Rhee. That means being able to properly and appropriately respond to voice commands to provide functions for users, rather than users having to search through deep and often complicated command and function menus to operate their devices, he wrote.
"When an application becomes Bixby-enabled, Bixby will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (i.e. touch commands)," wrote Rhee. "Most existing agents currently support only a few selected tasks for an application and therefore confuse users about what works or what doesn't work by voice command."
With Bixby's artificial intelligence engine, Samsung devices will provide responses that are more predictable for users and will better understand the context of user requests, wrote Rhee. "Bixby will allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive."
Bixby will also include what Samsung calls "cognitive tolerance," or the ability to understand commands even when given incomplete information by users, he wrote. In such a situation, Bixby will "execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and then will prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal," making the interface more natural and easier to use.
While Bixby will debut in the new Galaxy S8 smartphones, not all of its capabilities will be ready at launch, wrote Rhee. "We do have a bold vision of revolutionizing the human-to-machine interface, but that vision won't be realized overnight. Ambition takes time."