Samsung Electronics and its subsidiary Harman International Industries are set to release an artificial intelligence (AI) speaker next year, according to the former's President of Mobile Communication Koh Dong-Jin. While speaking at a Tuesday Galaxy Note 8 launch event in Seocho, Seoul, Mr. Koh stated that Samsung has been collaborating with Harman ever since it officially took over the company as part of its largest foreign acquisition to date earlier this year, adding that the two are currently developing an Internet-enabled smart speaker which will seemingly compete in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) market.
Rumors of Samsung working on an AI speaker have been circulating the industry for over a year now, with the company initially confirming its plans at the recently concluded IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany. On that occasion, Harman Chief Executive Officer Dinesh Paliwal said that the upcoming IoT device will be "unbeatable" and introduce an AI platform that will prove to be superior to existing solutions like the Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. It's still unclear whether the Seoul-based original equipment manufacturer and its subsidiary are presently working on an entirely new service or if the upcoming product is meant to be powered by Bixby, an AI digital companion which Samsung commercialized earlier this year with the launch of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.
The yet-unannounced device is meant to be released in the first half of 2018 but is still unlikely to make an appearance at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is taking place in January. Mr. Koh stated "the project will take some time" to result in a compelling device, suggesting that it may not launch before Mobile World Congress in early March. According to the company's previous comments on the matter, the IoT gadget will be capable of controlling a wide variety of Samsung-made electronics, in addition to being able to connect with first-party smartphones and tablets, though it's currently unclear whether the South Korean tech giant is planning to open its AI system to independent developers and manufacturers. The company is currently preparing for the release of its most powerful handset to date in the form of the Galaxy Note 8 which is scheduled for a commercial debut on September 15.