Samsung is adding AI to every device you can imagine

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Samsung is putting its Bixby digital assistant in a range of devices, from smart TVs to appliances to AI speakers

John Kim/CNET

Bixby is about to take over Samsung’s digital world.

Samsung’s at CES 2019, talking up how it’s supercharging Bixby through various partnerships and moving into new areas like robotics. The digital assistant now will help people manage their health routines using new Samsung robots or check whether their car’s gas tank is full.

Apps like Google Maps and Gmail will soon work with the digital assistant, Samsung said Monday during its press conference at CES in Las Vegas, and Bixby will be able to do even more on Samsung’s smart refrigerators and washing machines, like searching iTunes or letting you know which wash cycle to choose. 

The company is betting on artificial intelligence as the next major wave of computing. Samsung expects the technology to link its products together and let consumers do more with their electronics. And it aims to have Bixby in as many of its products as possible, as fast as possible. 

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“We have a bold vision to take a half a billion devices we sell every year and make them connected and intelligent,” Samsung co-CEO HS Kim said during Monday’s press conference. “Bixby is a scalable, open platform, and it will continue to grow as more partners join the ecosystem.”

Samsung has been building its capabilities in software and services over the past decade, but it’s had more flops than successes. It’s launched services, including Bixby’s predecessor, S Voice, only to scrap them a few months or years later. Instead of using its homegrown Tizen operating system in its high-end smartphones, Samsung has relegated the software to wearables and other products and continues to rely on Google’s Android software to power its smartphones and tablets. 

It’s hoping to change that with Bixby. Samsung will spend $22 billion on artificial intelligence by 2020, and it has opened seven AI centers around the globe. Samsung plans to employ 1,000 artificial intelligence specialists by 2020 — the same time frame it’s given for making all of its products internet-connected and integrated with Bixby.

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