Samsung Electronics has joined hands with Nvidia, a big player in the autonomous driving system sector, to invest in AI voice recognition company “SoundHound.”
According to industry sources on Feb. 1, the Samsung Catalyst Fund, which is under Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center (SSIC) located in the Silicon Valley of the U.S., invested US$75 million (86.5 billion won) in U.S. startup SoundHound with other investors, including Nvidia. Samsung’s individual investments are not disclosed.
SoundHound, which is well known for music recognition app that allows users to inform titles and artists after listing to music, now operates an interactive voice recognition platform “Houndify” system. With the latest investment, SoundHound plans to focus on developing Houndify systems further. The startup challenged Google and Amazon as they launched voice recognition AI assistants Google Assistant and Alexa, respectively.
SoundHound will develop more advanced voice recognition systems so the systems can answer up even to users’ long and specific questions. In addition, it will also expand its business further to Asia and Europe with the investment.
Samsung Electronics acquired AI platform developer “Viv Labs” in October last year to strengthen its voice recognition services. The Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone to be released in the first half of this year will also be equipped with AI assistant “Bixby.”
The voice recognition systems also can be used in the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles. The Houndify system established a partnership with Samsung’s IoT platform ARTIK and is being used by Nvidia which focuses on autonomous driving systems. Nvidia is currently developing a self-driving car with Audi and planning to start production in 2020. As driverless cars are highly likely to be run through voice recognition systems, instead of buttons, voice recognition technology is becoming more important. Harman, a global electronics equipment maker which was acquired by Samsung Electronics last year, also unveiled its autonomous driving system at the CES 2016 held in Las Vegas in Jan. this year. Accordingly, Samsung is highly likely to use Houndify voice recognition system in electronics products for autonomous vehicles in the future.
The Samsung Catalyst Fund is a venture fund created by Samsung Electronics in 2013 with the investment of US$1.1 billion (1.3 trillion won). It is now investing various innovative projects, including early stage companies. Last year, the fund made an investment in Afero, a U.S. startup that develops IoT platforms.