Samsung Electronics announced on November 28 that it acquired Fluenty, a South Korean startup developing interactive artificial intelligence (AI) platforms.
It is in order to prepare the opening of the Bixby 2.0 era in earnest that Samsung Electronics acquired the startup after reshuffling its AI R&D arm on a large scale. These activities are also to strengthen its technology for the establishment of a next-generation platform in which AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) are combined with each other.
All of the members of Fluenty have been absorbed by Samsung Electronics along with its key technology. The cost of the acquisition has not been disclosed.
Fluenty has become the first AI-developing South Korean startup acquired by Samsung Electronics. Samsung Electronics has assisted in the growth of local startups by means of various programs and large-scale investments, but did not buy any before Fluenty.
Samsung Electronics’ acquisition of Fluenty is likely to accelerate the improvement of the performance of Bixby. Specifically, Fluenty’s chatbot systems and natural language processing techniques are expected to be applied to Bixby so that the AI assistant can better understand the context of its conversations with users.
Samsung Electronics overhauled its AI research organization, as mentioned above, last week. As a result, the DMC Research Institute of its Consumer Electronics (CE) Division and the Software Center of its IT & Mobile (IM) Division have been integrated into Samsung Research, which has the AI Center as one of its arms.
In addition, Samsung Electronics combined the First and Second Wireless Development Offices of the IM Division, respectively in charge of software and hardware development before, with each other last week after appointing Vice President Chung Eui-seok, who was responsible for mobile platform development at Samsung Research America, as the executive member to supervise Bixby development as a whole. Fluenty employees are likely to belong to the Wireless Development Office.
With regard to the above-mentioned platform establishment based on the organizational reform and the takeover, Samsung Electronics suggested a more personalized and open intelligence ecosystem as the vision of Bixby 2.0 at Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) 2017 held last month.
Samsung Electronics is also planning to set up the next-generation integrated platform in which Bixby is organically linked to the Samsung SmartThings for IoT product and service integration. In this context, Samsung Electronics’ smart TVs come with Bixby and the AI assistant is connected to more Samsung products starting from next year.
“Samsung Electronics is currently enhancing in-house research and planning to acquire AI startups at the same time in order to beef up Bixby as a platform for its next-generation technology,” an industry expert commented, adding, “The acquisition of Fluenty implies that South Korean startups’ technological strength already reached a substantially high level.”
Established in January 2015, Fluenty has 12 patents related to interactive AI techniques such as auto answering. Fluenty has grown based on FuturePlay’s seed funding and follow-up investments from Global Brain and Innobase. It has released Fluenty.ai, South Korea’s first bot builder facilitating the production of interactive AI chatbots, and has incorporated its smart reply feature into mobile messengers via the Fluenty app.