Samsung has acquired Fluenty, a startup that develops artificial intelligence solutions for messaging applications, the South Korean tech giant has confirmed. The AI startup employs ten people, most of which are former employees of South Korean internet firms Naver and Kakao, and since 2015, it has developed a number of software offerings that focus on using AI in developing chatbots and recommending "smart replies". One of the firm’s products is the Fleunty app, an application that can recommend and send messages from either a smartphone or a smartwatch with just a press of a button. The software works with a number of existing messaging platforms, including Messenger, Whatsapp, and Google Hangouts. The company claims that the AI engine that powers its application has been trained on more than 700 million public conversations available on the internet. To protect the user’s privacy, the app uses encryption to ensure that the information sent to Fluenty's servers stay secure while the messages and replies of the user are anonymized, which means that the data cannot be traced back to an email address or any other identifiable information.
Aside from the application, another software offering from Fluenty is the "Smart Reply API". This software package allows any third-party to utilize the company's AI engine not only in creating smart replies but also in sending deep links. Deep Links provide individuals with important information from the internet, including manuals, maps, and even videos. It is highly likely that these technologies will be consolidated into Bixby, Samsung's AI-powered virtual assistant, primarily to improve the conversational capabilities of the assistant. Fluenty is also informing the users of its AI platform, at least in Korea, that its services will shut down by the end of the year.
This is not the first time that Samsung has acquired a startup in an effort to enhance the features of its virtual assistant. November last year, the company purchased the US-based startup Viv Labs, a firm that was founded by software developers who once worked on Apple's voice assistant, Siri. Earlier this year, the South Korean smartphone manufacturer also acquired the Greek text-to-speech company Innoetics. Aside from the voice recognition technologies, the startup is also reported to work on Bixby Vision, a feature of the virtual assistant that recognizes objects and attempts to provide relevant information related to the object. It is probable that Samsung will purchase more startups in the future, as it seeks to further improve Bixby.