Samsung Developing A Smart Speaker You Might Actually Buy: Report

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A new leak suggests that Samsung is working on another smart home speaker powered by the its artificial intelligence assistant Bixby. This device is identified by the model number SM-V310, and rumors indicate that the product will only be available in black. The same source also indicates that the product will be significantly cheaper than the Galaxy Home, Samsung's first-ever smart speaker launched in August, although there is currently no available information on the actual pricing of the device. To reduce the cost of producing the speaker, Samsung may use fewer microphones or a less complex audio setup that lacks a subwoofer, industry watchers speculate. Nonetheless, despite the possible hardware differences, the cheaper Galaxy Home smart speaker should feature the same upgraded version of Samsung's virtual assistant, Bixby 2.0, and in overall be much more accessible to the average consumer.

Background: The development of Galaxy Home speaker is part of Samsung's efforts to capture a significant share of the rapidly growing smart home market. The original gadget has yet to hit the market but many analysts are skeptical of its prospects, largely due to the widespread expectation that Samsung will attach a price tag in the ballpark of $300 to the device. The Galaxy Home was unveiled this summer alongside the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Note 9. It features eight microphones and an audio setup tuned by AKG. Samsung claims the said optimizations will result in an industry-leading audio experience, although the possible lack of a subwoofer in the rumored second smart speaker may result in a poorer sound output of the second gadget may be advertised as the Galaxy Home Mini. Another feature of the already announced smart speaker is its ability to focus sound waves toward a user's location. The product also offers native support for SmartThings Hub that allows users to automatically sync it with other smart home devices. Far-field voice recognition is also part of the package, allowing the device to detect and respond to voice instructions from a considerable distance.

Meanwhile, Bixby 2.0, the virtual assistant that will power the two Galaxy Home smart speakers, features several improvements over the first edition of Samsung's AI solution. For example, thanks to a recent partnership between Google and Samsung, the latest version of Bixby incorporates many popular Google services and may also benefit from the Alphabet-owned firm's industry-leading AI tech. Its ability to recognize and respond to natural speech has been improved as well, together with the number of supported third-party apps.

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Impact: The existence of another Galaxy Home speaker suggests Samsung sees this particular product category as more than an experiment and intends to directly take on Amazon's Echo and Google's Home lineup. Naturally, that's assuming the Galaxy Home Mini or however the gadget ends up being called will be priced at below $100, though that seems like a reasonable assumption seeing how the mid-range segment of this market is virtually non-existent and Samsung already has an incoming contender for the premium smart speaker throne. The South Korean tech juggernaut may announce the new device as early as next month when Las Vegas-based CES is scheduled to kick off.