Samsung really wants its Bixby AI assistant to be a formidable competitor to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri. In order to make Bixby even more competitive, the South Korean company has acquired a 100 percent stake in AI search engine startup Kngine.
According to The Investor, Kngine develops mobile solutions that understands and answer questions based on its deep learning algorithm. The startup initially started operations in Egypt in 2013 and claims its engine is designed to work similar to a human brain. Kngine says that its neural networks continuously read the web, understand its contents and updates and expands its knowledge base accordingly.
“Our research arm Samsung Research America acquired the entire stake in October last year,” a Samsung official told the publication with revealing financial details of the takeover.
The official also added that Samsung Next, an unlisted US venture capital unit of its research affiliate has invested jointly with Vodafone Ventures Egypt in the startup in 2014 and acquired the entire stake last year. The acquisition is seen as an attempt to strengthen its efforts in the AI mobile solutions.
Samsung launched Bixby alongside Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in March last year as a replacement to S Voice. The assistant was based on Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs in 2016 but it has been off to a rocky start due to its limited language support and lack of voice support at the time of launch. However, it does have deeper integration with apps compared to any other digital assistant. With Kngine, the assistant should become even more robust and offer even deeper integration with applications.
In order to make its Bixby work, Samsung has added a dedicated Bixby button on its flagship smartphones and has even hired Larry Heck who pioneered Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana initially. Samsung also has investments in other AI startups like Reactor Labs, Expect Labs and Vicarious.