Samsung is joining the likes of Amazon and Google’s play for the living room by developing a smart speaker — despite not really having voice-activated technology ready yet.
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the South Korean hardware maker is integrating its Bixby assistant into a voice-activated device.
Samsung has been working on the new speaker – codenamed “Vega” – for more than a year, reads the report, but there’s no clear timeframe for its release. Several unnamed sources said that specifications for the device haven’t been finalized, and it seems that progress has been hindered by ongoing linguistic issues with Bixby.
Samsung still hasn’t launched a full version of Bixby for English-speaking countries, despite the Galaxy S8 and S8+ having been on sale for weeks. Last week, it emerged that Samsung is still scrambling to assemble the resources and tools it needs to develop Bixby’s capabilities, including a lack of data and foreign language experts.
Samsung is said to have already shelved earlier plans for a different speaker, due to voice recognition problems.
“Vega is only the latest of Samsung’s speaker projects, which go back years, according to people familiar with the matter,” reads the report. “The company had once planned to debut one code-named ‘Hive’ in March 2015 at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, the people said, but it was quietly shelved over software issues including problems with voice recognition.”
The firm originally said the English-language Bixby would be complete – with full voice support – by the Spring, but one source stated that it’s unlikely to be ready until the end of July.
Once the speaker comes to fruition, it will face off against the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Apple HomePod, which will become available in December in the U.S., taking a stab in the same market. The HomePod is meant to, of course, revolutionize voice-activated speakers and operate almost as a virtual assistant, and Apple seems to want to accomplish this by aiming for Alexa directly, but also at high-end music speakers like Sonos.