As tech giants like Google, Amazon and Apple integrate their voice-enabled digital assistants into more devices, Samsung, led by its R&D Institute in India, is busy infusing Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its virtual assistant Bixby for a harmonised Internet of Things (IoT) experience at home.
After smartphones, Samsung aims to make all its home appliance products "smart" by 2020 -- a year which, according to Gartner, will see nearly 20 billion connected devices.
Bixby is the next frontier in AI that will help users speak to their refrigerators, TVs, washing machines, dishwashers, ovens and what not.
"We are already doing 30-40 per cent of AI-based activities -- training deep neural networks for vision, voice and text -- at our place.
"Voice is the next enabler. Bixby is the voice interface and our whole intelligence journey into devices. We already have IoT devices other than smartphones that are Bixby-enabled," Aloknath De, Chief Technical Officer, Samsung Research Institute (SRI)-Bangalore, told IANS.
Bixby is now available with customised voice capabilities in India that understand local accents and is helping consumers interact better with their smartphones.
A huge part of the Bixby development was done at SRI-Bangalore -- the company's largest Research and Developement facility outside South Korea. The company has two more R&D centres in Noida.
"Bixby-enabled smartphones are here and the technology will naturally metamorphose into other home devices. Bixby is the next 'intelligent interface' and we are right on the job," De emphasised.
Samsung is busy creating an industry-leading ecosystem of IoT offerings that connect smart devices and simplify daily life. In 2017, Samsung spent more than $14 billion on R&D.
In its next-generation Smart 4K QLED TVs that were unveiled in March are coming to India soon, voice commands to 'Bixby' can help you find favourite movies or songs -- along with controlling compatible IoT home devices like a robotic vacuum cleaner or cameras inside home.
Similarly, Bixby-enabled "Family Hub" refrigerators offer a wide range of smart features like syncing food storage with meal preparation, and keeping family members better connected and organised.
The refrigerators are able to recognise individual voices of family members and give personalised information such as news, weather and calendar updates.
Samsung Smart TVs and "Family Hub" refrigerators are tuned to operate on a single connected Cloud platform -- the "SmartThings Cloud" -- serving as a smart dashboard to monitor and control connected devices.
Amid such big plans, the South Korean giant's India R&D centre has become one of the leading venues for innovations.
There are over 8,000 people working in R&D and SRI-Bangalore takes pride in unveiling several India-first products like Bixby Voice, Samsung Pay, Social Camera and many more.
"We have many firsts to our credit. Going forward, Bixby is maturing over time for Cloud adoption. Building functionalities for IoT-enabled devices are top on our mind," De noted.
The South Korean tech giant is working towards combining its IoT Cloud platform with its entire line-up of products.
"We believe IoT should be as easy as flipping a switch. We're making IoT easier and more seamless," Hyunsuk (HS) Kim, President, Head of Samsung's Consumer Electronics Division and Samsung Research, said recently.
Samsung is working with partners such as the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) to set common industry standards.
OCF is the largest IoT standardisation body in the world and Samsung's "ARTIK" chip, air conditioner and "Family Hub" refrigerator have already been certified by the association for interoperability criteria needed for IoT.
Samsung has introduced its first Internet of Things-enabled washer-dryer "FlexWash" in India and plans to commence mass production in the coming years.
"Integrating Bixby into more devices, and exploring ways to make more objects intelligent, will eventually allow more households to experience the benefits of a seamlessly-connected IoT ecosystem," De emphasised.