Samsung Now Employs Siri’s Original Creators, Their Newest Voice Assistant Might Give Siri a Run for Her Money

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Samsung announced Wednesday that they have acquired Viv, an artificial intelligence startup founded by the creators of Siri. The three cofounders of Viv — Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer, and Chris Brigham — were the original creators of Siri, which Cupertino acquired in 2010. The three left Apple after the acquisition, and went on to found Viv two years later, according to TechCrunch.

Their new company, Viv, focuses on an AI and assistant system of the same name. Now that Samsung owns them, they’ll continue to operate as a separate company, but are obligated by contract to provide their services and platforms to the Korean-based phone manufacturer. And those services and platforms might be a boon for Samsung. Viv, which was first unveiled in 2014, has been called a more extensive and powerful version of Apple’s smart assistant. Built on the foundation of Siri, Viv can actually accomplish more tasks than its predecessor and answer more complicated questions.

Viv is capable of answering much more complicated questions than Siri

“Will it be warmer than 70-degrees near the Golden gate bridge after 5 p.m. the day after tomorrow?” Cofounder Kittlaus asked Viv onstage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY event.

Viv reportedly answered this and many more peculiarly specific questions at the event. And, according to AppleInsider, Viv can accomplish a variety of tasks all from a single point of contact — it can look up movie show times, compare prices and buy tickets from different theaters, suggest alternative show times, and recommend pre-movie dinner reservations, all in one go.

Viv has also been compared to Amazon’s Alexa system in that it offers third-party integration, allowing it to work with programs and vendors to complete tasks associated with other entities. Viv’s founders have also said that they want the system to be hardware- and platform-agnostic — allowing you to use it no matter where you are or what device you have, according to ARS Technica.

It’s also worth noting that Viv hasn’t officially launched yet — it’s just been demonstrated at various keynotes. But this acquisition gives Samsung a system that could actually be a competitor to both Siri and Google’s newly unveiled Assistant. Samsung, who has long been locked in a battle with Apple over the top tier in the smartphone market, could use any advantage it can get — especially in the face of Google’s new and impressive smart assistant.

But Samsung’s exact Viv-based ambitions are currently unclear. Injong Rhee, CTO of Samsung Mobile, told Recode that their AI focus is very device-centric. He went on to add that Viv — or Viv-like technology — will first rollout with next year’s Galaxy flagships. Additional plans include integrating the system into TVs and other internet-connected smart devices — perhaps hinting at a focus on internet-of-things applications.

Of course, Samsung’s track record of integrating third-party systems into their products is pretty terrible thus far. But wherever Samsung takes Viv, cofounder Kittlaus has been adamant that selling their company to the Korean phone maker was the right move, according to Recode.

“We, of course, did our own independent inquiries about this issue,” Kittlaus told Recode. “Samsung has drastically changed in terms of how they handle acquisitions and integrations over the last three years and really gotten good.”

Do you think Siri will soon be playing catch up to Viv?
Or do you think Apple already has a Siri-update project in the works?
Let us know in the comments below!

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