Samsung Electronics is working on a connected speaker that's meant to rival the likes of the Google Home and Amazon's Echo lineup, industry sources said on Wednesday. The upcoming Internet of Things (IoT) device is said to be powered by Bixby, Samsung's recently launched artificial intelligence (AI) assistant that debuted on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus in late April. The South Korean consumer electronics manufacturer was reportedly granted a number of design patents for a connected speaker in its home country, insiders said, without clarifying on the matter. It's currently unclear when such a device might be commercialized, though its launch won't necessarily happen this year, with Samsung already having another smart speaker in the works; the company's subsidiary Harman Kardon is currently collaborating with Microsoft on the Invoke - a Cortana-powered Internet-enabled speaker that's scheduled to be launched in the coming months. While the global IoT market has been growing at a steady pace in recent years, it's possible that Samsung is deliberately looking to launch its own smart speaker much later than the Invoke in an effort to avoid a scenario in which two devices are competing with each another.
The Bixby-enabled connected speaker might be called the Samsung Hello, with the Seoul-based tech giant already trademarking that term and its derivations in Europe earlier this year. The company recently started rolling out its digital companion to more devices, including its Family Hub 2.0 refrigerator lineup. Given Samsung's recent modus operandi for emerging technologies, the firm is likely to introduce a Bixby-powered speaker in its home country prior to releasing it in other markets. Samsung's representatives repeatedly stated that the company's new voice-enabled helper isn't just meant to serve as one of the selling points of the Galaxy S8 series and was instead designed as a comprehensive solution whose launch marks the start of a new IoT ecosystem.
It remains to be seen how long does Samsung take to introduce its first smart speaker but the company is likely ramping up its efforts to do so given the rapidly rising competition in this emerging market. An update on the firm's product portfolio should be available in the coming months.