[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics said on Nov. 28 it has acquired Korean artificial intelligence startup Fluenty that has developed a machine learning-based chatbot that is highly likely to be used for upgrading its own AI assistant Bixby.
The acquisition includes the firm’s engineers, technologies and assets. The founding members consist of researchers from top Korean tech firms such as Naver, Kakao and LG Electronics.
Fluenty's smart reply assistant app
Established in January 2015, Fluenty has launched its own smart reply assistant app in English and Korean. The app, featured in most popular messenger programs such as KakaoTalk, Telegram, Line, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, helps replying to messages with witty responses.
In September last year, the firm also joined Samsung’s startup accelerating program, which included funding worth 100 million won (US$918,000).
Samsung is especially pinning high hopes on the latest acquisition for upgrading Bixby that has been receiving lukewarm response as it is still struggling to pick up languages like English and Chinese.
Sources say Samsung’s mobile communications division that is leading the Bixby development has shown keen interest in Fluenty’s quick replies that don’t sound auto-generated.
Last year, Samsung also acquired VivLabs, the US-based AI startup behind the earlier version of Apple's AI assistant Siri. But the firm didn’t participate in the current Bixby version that had already been developed before the acquisition.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)