Another voice assistant is coming, and it is coming from Samsung! Viv Labs, the company Samsung bought in late 2016 to give them voice assistant technology is their key into this market. Viv is short for vivarium and literally means "place of life".
Viv was a startup founded by the same people who created Siri (which was acquired by Apple). The story goes, the founders of Siri were unhappy when Apple removed access to a number of conduits to third party content. Although the official story says 'he wanted to spend more time with family.'
Viv Labs never shiped a product themselves, and only did one public demonstration at a TechCrunch disrupt event. We are told that Viv will remain independent, but that comes as standard territory with most acquisitions. You can watch it here:
We can see the demo is impressive in it's ability to ask for information. At the same time, it is still pretty rough in that they don't have the text to speech working, and we see output on the screen.
In many ways, Viv created the next generation Siri. The founders even wrote an article Siri is Only the Beginning, right before they started Viv Labs.
What is so exciting about this is that it means the team was able to take everything they learned while implementing Siri and put that into their newest product. It seems that it is able to handle much more difficult voice patterns and also has an excellent plug-in architecture in place (meaning extendability by third party developers).
When and Where?
The most we know is that Viv will be available on the Samsung Galaxy S8 phone. This is smart on Samsung's behalf, as Google only has their older "Google Now" voice assistant technology as part of Android. The Google Assistant is currently only available on hardlike like the Pixel phone and Google Home. Although, it is available in chat form as part of the Allo messaging App.
Is Hands Free Possible?
What becomes very interesting is that Samsung also acquired speaker maker Harman International Industries for $8 Billion dollars, which owns twenty brands, including: Harman/Kardon, Infinity, JBL, and Bang & Olufsen. You may have heard of one of them.
These two acquisitions could bring some credence to the idea that Samsung might create a stand-alone hands-free voice assistant (similar to Amazon Echo or Google Home). Samsung sure would have the technical skills to do it. Now, they just need to get all these technologies and people working together.
Time will Tell! As I always say, competiiton is good!