Samsung’s assistant Bixby in tough challenge to rivals

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WASHINGTON, April 2, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – Samsung’s Bixby is the new kid on the block of personal digital assistants and is likely to face a rough reception in a neighborhood dominated by tech sector rivals.

Bixby — introduced at Samsung’s unveiling of Galaxy S8 smartphones — aims to help the South Korean giant break into a surging market for voice-activated virtual assistants, which includes Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.

The latest personal digital assistant distinguishes itself from competitors by using voice commands rather than touch to control handsets or applications, factoring in location awareness and image recognition.

The integrated camera function allows users to identify buildings, such as popular tourist sites, to access their websites and other information simply by snapping a photo.

The photo recognition technology can also help users decipher menus in foreign languages, or find places to shop for specific items they photograph.

“It impressed me that they were doing image recognition and context awareness,” said Bob O’Donnell, analyst and consultant with Technalysis Research, who attended the presentation.

“It adds some new twists we haven’t seen before,” he said, noting Bixby’s ability to make recommendations.

Yet Bixby is still a work in progress — the virtual entity did not speak at the New York demonstration. It has yet to be infused with technology from Samsung’s recently acquired Viv, a company founded by creators of Apple’s Siri.

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