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article imageSamsung's Bixby assistant lands on smart fridges

By James Walker     May 15, 2017 in Technology
Samsung is bringing its Bixby digital assistant to its smart Family Hub refrigerators according to reports today. The software update allows you to interact with the fridge using voice commands, a helpful alternative to the touchscreen while cooking.
The assistant is available from today on the Samsung Family Hub 2.0, according to Pulse News in Korea. The update is now being installed on new fridges shipping fresh from the factory. In the coming weeks, an over-the-air patch will bring the assistant to existing appliances.
This is Bixby's debut outside of Samsung's Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone. It marks Samsung's intent to roll out Bixby across its entire product portfolio, including smart TVs and connected home appliances. There's currently no timeframe for when it will arrive in other products. Its launch on the Family Hub shows Samsung is already at work on integrating Bixby into its ecosystem.
Bixby's smartphone launch has been marred outside of Korea by the absence of its headline feature. It's not currently possible to interact with the assistant using voice commands in the U.S. or other regions, preventing it from fulfilling its role as the Google Assistant rival Samsung intends it to be.
Bixby is based on deep learning algorithms that enable it to expand its intelligence over time. As it's used, the AI becomes more aware of its owner's requirements. This data gathering will persist across devices, enabling a Bixby instance on a smartphone to adapt itself based on insights obtained from studying interactions with a fridge. It's this kind of rich cross-device intelligence that Samsung's hoping to pioneer.
Samsung Galaxy S8 - Bixby
Samsung Galaxy S8 - Bixby
Bixby's also meant to be a simpler approach to digital assistants that's more appealing to sceptical users. When the voice command functionality eventually launches, it'll offer context-aware conversations. Samsung claims Bixby will be able to understand the nuances of human sentences more succinctly than its rivals, lowering the "cognitive tolerance" barrier.
This will manifest itself as a relaxed syntax for the commands used to interact with Bixby. It'll be able to resolve a range of sentence types and word orders to the same underlying meaning. Contextual information such as the time of day and the user's typical routine are also folded into the analysis. As with many of Bixby's other features, this concept isn't new. Where it will differ is in Samsung's implementation, details of which still haven't been officially published.
Bixby's aims mesh well with the role of Samsung's Family Hub fridge. Although smart appliances aren’t yet common, Samsung is preparing for the future by adding its headline technology to the fridge. The Family Hub's name hints at its role in the connected home – besides keeping your food cold, it's also meant to be the digital meeting point for the family where you check your calendar, read the headlines and get your morning briefing.
In this way, adding Bixby to the Family Hub before any of Samsung's other smart products makes sense. With the assistant integrated into the centre of the smart home, Samsung's now ready to begin building it into a wider spectrum of devices. The company hasn't said how many of its existing products will receive Bixby upgrades.
More about Samsung, Bixby, digital assistant, Ai, machine learning
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