Samsung has announced an updated version of its Bixby voice assistant that will “act as the control hub” for a number of devices, including TVs next year. The company is also working on a dongle to make other products Bixby-compatible.
Bixby on your TV
Bixby 2.0 was announced at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco and is meant to supplant the first version that was launched less than a year ago to a lukewarm reception.
Samsung said that Bixby 2.0 is a “fundamental leap forward for digital assistants”. It will have to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant but currently Bixby speaks only two languages, English and Korean.
The company further said that Bixby will be powered by the cloud and open to developers, enabling them to put their services on any and all Bixby-enabled devices. Bixby 2.0 will “act as the control hub of your device ecosystem”.
This includes Samsung Smart TVs, besides other products such as phones, refrigerators, and home speakers.
- “Beginning in 2018, Samsung will offer Bixby-enabled TVs in the US and Korea,” the company announced.
It is not clear exactly what this entails. Will it be a software update for existing TVs or available on only on the 2018 TVs? Samsung usually refuses to update its Tizen platform from year-to-year, so the second possibility sounds more likely. We will know more after CES 2018.
Bixby on a dongle
The potential is certainly there. Other voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri already let you search for TV content and do other stuff on your TV. New features can be added continuously since it is simply software linked to the cloud.
Samsung has in the past implemented simple voice command systems into its TVs. The implementation came under scrutiny after it was revealed that the TVs transmitted recordings of your conversations at home in unencrypted form to servers, and that the information was shared with third parties. The company was even caught lying twice.
Perhaps Bixby 2.0 will do better, perhaps not, but Samsung is making a big bet that voice assistant paired with a home automation platform will help us in our daily lives. Only few of Samsung’s devices are Bixby-enabled so the company is also working on “Project Ambience”, which is a small dongle that you can connect to “a variety of electronics to make them Bixby-compatible.” Samsung said that the dongle will be “inexpensive” when it arrives.